When it comes to sweet wines, many wine lovers should think of noble rot, ice wine and port, but have you heard of sage wine?1. What is sacramental wine?
Sacramental wine is a wine made from air-dried grapes with an attractive oxidized flavor, usually sweet. It is a characteristic Italian wine with a very long history. Today, sacramental wines are produced in many parts of Italy, but generally the most classic and famous are from Tuscany.2. Why is it called sacramental wine?
The name “Vin Santo” is a translation of the foreign name “Vin Santo”. The name “Vin Santo” has many different origins in the wine world. For example, many believe that it was a wine often used in Catholic mass ceremonies at the time, hence the name “Vin Santo”. Others believe that the grapes for the wine were usually dried on All Saints’ Eve or before Christmas, and the finished wine was bottled around Easter, hence the name “Holy Wine. There is also a more plausible explanation – in the Middle Ages, Venice, Italy, which had jurisdiction over the Greek island of Santorini, produced a wine similar to the latter’s famous sweet wine, Vinsanto (also translated as Vinsanto” (also translated as “holy wine”, but the two are made in different ways and styles), which has a similar name. In addition, there are many other interesting stories circulating in the wine world, such as that the wine is high in sugar and seems to have an inherent divine power to help the sick regain their vitality more quickly, hence the name “holy wine”.3. Varieties of sacred wine
Sacred wines are made from a wide variety of grape varieties that are representative of all Italian regions. They are usually white grape varieties, the most common of which are Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes. The sacred wines of the Tuscan appellation must be blended with these two aromatic grape varieties, and even many of the local sub-appellations have minimum requirements for their percentage of blends.In addition, there are also peach versions of the sacred wines, called “Occhio di Pernice”, which are generally made from Sangiovese, with the Montepulciano region of Tuscany producing the most famous rosé The Sangiovese is the most famous wine.
4. How is the sacred wine made?
The uniqueness of sacramental wine is mainly related to its winemaking process.After harvesting in September and October, the grapes for the Sacrées are placed on straw mats or hung under beams to dry naturally for about 3-6 months until the grapes have dried out due to massive evaporation of water (they are reduced to about 40% of their original volume) and are extremely concentrated in sugar and flavor. During this time, many wineries will check the humidity in the room on a daily basis to ensure the grapes are drying smoothly. After the drying process, the dried grapes are pressed to produce a dense, precious must. The must is then placed in a small wooden barrel (usually 50 liters) called a “caratelli” for alcoholic fermentation. Due to the high concentration of sugar in the must, the fermentation process is slow and usually lasts 1-3 months. To make the fermentation process smoother, the major wineries often use a “Madre” (a mixture of the sacramental wine from the previous year and the residual yeast from the previous year’s fermentation) to start the fermentation.
After fermentation, the wine continues to age in small barrels for a long time. Traditionally made of tannin-rich, breathable chestnut wood, the barrels are sealed during the aging process so that wineries cannot Top Up (i.e., add wine during the aging process to fill in the portion of wine lost to evaporation), which allows more oxygen to enter, thereby speeding up the evaporation process and imparting oxidized flavors such as nutty, caramelized sugar to the wine. However, many producers today also use other woods, such as oak, to make sacramental wines; they also often add barrels during the aging period, thus imparting a nutty flavor to the wine while maintaining a certain freshness.In many Italian regions, sacramental wines must be aged for at least three years before they can be sold, but in fact, many wineries produce sacramental wines that are aged well beyond the legal limit to further enhance the complexity and intensity of the wine. 5. The style of sacramental wines
Sacramental wines are usually sweet wines. However, a very small number of dry sacramental wines exist. This type of sacramental wine is fermented long enough so that almost all of the sugar in the final liquid is converted to alcohol, resulting in a dry wine.In its most classic sweet style, the sacramental wines have a wide range of colors, from pale straw gold to deep amber to bright orange. They often have complex aromas of hazelnuts, caramel, honey, dried apricots and tropical fruit, and are full-bodied, sweet and mellow, often served with a local hard cookie, a popular afternoon tea in Italy. In short, if you have the opportunity to taste this unique sweet wine, don’t miss it.
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