We were out ‘n about recently and we were hungry so we decided we would stop at the first place we saw — quite adventurous for us. Turned out we were pleasantly surprised by the entire experience especially when we were given a complimentary glass of vin santo with our dessert.
What is vin santo? or vinsanto? It’s common for most people to associate vin santo with the sweet dessert wine made in Tuscany which is historically known as ‘holy wine’. In Italy it is a tradition to serve vin santo with biscotti. I remember my great uncle dunking the biscotti in his glass of wine.
This traditional Tuscan dessert wine is usually made using white grape varieties Trebbiano and Malvasia. The ‘old world’ way to make this style of dessert wine is to lay out the grapes on straw mats in a warm and well ventilated area of the house. I’m guessing that this still may be the way some winemakers dry the grapes though today there might be a designated building where the grapes are dried rather than in their home.
This style of wine is said to have originated in Tuscany, Italy. Today, vin santo is produced in several designated wine regions (DOC’s and IGT’s) in Italy.
So what’s vinsanto? Is it the same as vin santo?
This looks like we’re splitting hairs but it seems that in ancient Greece the Venetians occupied the island of Santorini. History tells us that the ancient Greeks made a sweet wine they called Paso using their native white grapes which were dried in the sun before aging them in ‘vessels’. The Venetians called the wine vinsanto which was actually the ‘place of origin’ for the wine.
The Venetians took this process with them back to Italy and began calling their wine vin santo which they made using their native white grapes.
When the Greeks realized the Italians were taking claim to the vin santo, the Greeks fought for and won the right to the name Vinsanto (one word) which is for the wine made only in Santorini.
Hence, there is Vin Santo, the ever famous Italian dessert wine from Tuscany and the ‘one word’ named wine called Vinsanto only made in Santorini.
Just another “who knew?”.