Tuscan Vin Santo

Vin Santo Toscano

The Tuscan Vin Santo, also called Vinsanto, is a sweet wine whose history is as fascinating as it is ancient. It is produced practically everywhere in Tuscany (as well as in Umbria), from the large company to the small winemaker who makes wine for self-consumption. It has always been the worthy ending to family lunches, where it often happens to see bottles of Vin Santo produced in different vintages or by different producers (relatives and friends) appear on the table, thus triggering a pleasant game to compare the best or the one that favors everyone's taste more.

History of Vinsanto

In Vin Santo it has been part of the Tuscan wine tradition since time immemorial, but its origins go back much further. In fact, it seems that the name "holy" derives from a statement by the Greek Metropolitan Giovanni Bessarione, who, during the Council of Florence in 1431, would have praised wine by exclaiming "This is the wine of Xantos!", Or of Santorini, in Greece. Thus the conviction was created that wine had properties out of the ordinary. It was thus called holy wine.

According to another version, the holy name derives from the fact that the grapes are left to dry until Holy Week.

Still another wants that the wine owes its name to the fact that it was used for Holy Mass.

Vin Santo: how to make it

Part of the charm of this wine also derives from the particular method with which it is produced. Vin Santo Toscano is produced with two of the most historically popular grape varieties in Tuscany: Trebbiano and Malvasia. The grapes are harvested and left to dry in Vinsantaia, a dry and ventilated place, in order to avoid mold and rot. Here they are placed on "racks" - mats made of thin reeds - or hung with hooks. The berries then begin to slowly dehydrate, increasing the sugar content of the must that will be extracted.

The must is then placed in "caratelli", small wooden barrels of about 50 liters, on the bottom of which rests the "mother", a yeast mush that has been handed down in some cases for countless years and which is responsible for starting the fermentation, as well as the peculiar character of the cellar.

Here the Vin Santo rests for at least two years, but wineries that, to offer an even more valuable product, bottle it even after ten years are not uncommon.

The charm of Vin Santo also lies in the uncertainty of production. When the kegs are opened it can happen to find them partially or totally empty, due to a too tumultuous fermentation that may have cracked the keg and made the liquid escape, even if it must be said that in the larger and equipped this inconvenience is now averted.

Vinsanto types and denominations

Dry, sweet, with infinite nuances between one extreme and another, to satisfy everyone's taste.

In addition to the endless homemade productions, there is also a more restricted production of quality Vin Santo. The quality Vin Santo is protected by two denominations: the Vin Santo del Chianti DOC, and the Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC (or Vinsanto del Chianti Classico). Both must be aged in casks for a minimum of 3 years, 4 for the Riserva. For both denominations there is also the version of Vin Santo Occhio di pernice, produced with Sangiovese and other permitted grapes.

Pairings: Cantucci and Vin Santo, a must

"Cantucci and Vin Santo" is almost a unique noun, this combination is so strong in tradition. In every self-respecting Tuscan tavern, among the desserts at the end of the meal, this pairing of Tuscan gastronomic excellences cannot be missing, which, among other things, also share the fact that their paternity is disputed between many cities in the region. Cantucci, dry biscuits whose hometown seems to be Prato, but even on this, as mentioned, not everyone agrees, they are found in many versions: with hazelnuts, with pieces of chocolate ... the classic version, and also the one that best matches the Tuscan Vin Santo, however it is the one with almonds.