Enjoying a sweet wine is often the best way to end a meal or accompany the moments immediately following it.
However, it is necessary to be careful and use some simple tricks in order not to risk making a mistake or finding oneself faced with an unexpected taste.
The first thing to pay attention to is the distinction between “dessert wines” and “fortified wines”.
Many of the latter are famous and easily identifiable, for example Port, Marsala, Sherry: products that have a precise fame and identity. However, you can also often find products with the words “Pantelleria”, “Moscato”, “Santo” in their name, which may be reminiscent of traditional raisin wines, but which actually have a distinguishing feature: the addition of alcohol, brandy or must. With due attention, they are easily identified by paying attention to the label on the neck of the bottle.
Raisin wines, by definition, undergo the same production processes as white and red wines and do not require any kind of additional ingredient: their sweetness comes from the sugars already naturally present in the grapes.
What is their secret? How can you increase the percentage of sugar, without adding it?
Simply reduce the amount of water in the grapes. There are basically two methods:
– leaving them to dry directly on the vine
– leaving them to dry after being harvested in special, controlled environments.
We cannot fail to mention another player which, under special conditions, can make a great contribution to the creation of quality passito: Botrytis cinerea, the noble rot!
This particular mold attacks the grapes, dehydrating them, and its presence enriches the wine with complex aromas. Sauternes, the most famous (and expensive) dessert wines in the world, owe part of their success to this secret!
And then there are the Eisweins… but that’s another story….