How is a dessert wine made?
We all know that wine is made through fermentation. Generally speaking, the fermentation will convert all the grape sugars into alcohol. With Dessert wine, the fermentation process is halted before this process is complete. The dessert wine consequently has a rich, sweet flavor. There are several methods of making dessert wines. Here are some methods of making Italian wine that produce dessert wines.
Late harvest grapes are more similar in appearance to raisins. They have been intentionally dehydrated on the vine to concentrate the flavours and sugars until October – November.
Another way of reducing the water level within a grape is air-drying the grapes on crates once they have been harvested. Once grapes lose 30% of water, the wine process starts.
There is another method of reducing the water content, and that is to use grapes that are infected with "Noble Rot," a fungus that removes moisture from the grapes. The difficulty is that the same fungus can also cause "Grey Rot," which can destroy a crop if the conditions are too damp.
Typically, most regulations forbid grapes to be harvested at temperatures below -7 degrees Celsius. These grapes are frozen while still attached to the vine. The water in the grape freezes but the sugars in the grape do not.
Most popular types of Italian dessert wine
Vin Santo (Holy Wine)
This is a style of dessert wine most associated with Tuscany. It is typically made of white grape varieties such as Trebbiano and Malvasia. The wine is often made by drying the grapes on beds of straw after harvest. This style of wine is not exclusive to Tuscany and can be found throughout Italy.
Vi Santo Poderi del Paradiso is made in San Gimignano and is a dessert wine with a caramelized and sticky style.
Recioto is a style of wine that is made from dried grapes in Veneto wine region. Grapes that are harvested when very ripe and then left out to dry before fermentation. The result is a very sweet and fresh wine. Recioto wines may also sometimes be infected with Noble Rot. Recioto is one of the oldest wines globally and was the original wine that later was to spawn Amarone.
This delicious dessert wine is made by laying the grapes on reed beds until February and then fermented slowly.
Passito, which means ‘sweet’, is a style of wine that has been made with dried grapes. This drying process concentrates the sugars in the grape by removing some of the water.
This deep red wine, with a violet tinge, wine is made from the native Sagrantino grapes, and bunches are left out to dry on mats for at least two months.
A delicious dessert wine made from the Chorri winery in Umbria. A wine that combines with desserts perfectly. The grapes are left to dry in the sun once hand-picked.
Another Passito, but this time from Sardinia and made with grapes that have high sugar content.
A Passito made with Albana grapes infected with the Noble Rot fungus. A sweet dessert wine.
Visciole (cherry wine).
This tradition of making dessert wine with cherries is centuries old. The process for this wine utilizes a current vintage of grape wine for the base and then sundried cherries and sour cherries. The one has a potent profile of sour cherry.
A classical dessert wine made in the Marche wine region. Visciole means "Wild Cherries" in Italian and the wine is made from a combination of cherries and grape. The result is a Ruby Red sweet wine.
A blend of wine and local sour cherries from the Marche Region that is said to be a perfect companion for blue cheese or chocolate.
A sparkling sweet wine made from Moscato Bianco grapes, primarily in the Asti region. The wine is low in alcohol and is normally classified as a dessert wine. This is an affordable wine that has been growing in popularity.