History tells us that the red sweet wines were precious and tasted only during some special religious worship and practices from the highest echelons of power, so by kings and emperors. The sweet wine has supporters and detractors, but today we want to rediscover the flavors, ancient techniques and traditions of this sweet wines not easy to make.
In fact, the production of red sweet wines requires greater collaboration between Nature and Man and a virtually millimeter processing system … It is no coincidence that the red and white sweet wines are defined as “capricious”. But when the ripening is perfectly managed the sweet wine has a complex and delightful aroma.
Sweetness: ripening and controlled fermentation
The difference between a dry wine and a sweet wine is the amount of sugary substance that we find in our glass, we realize it at the first sip. The young grape is acidic and low in sugar, the more maturation progresses the more acids diminish and sugars increase; then, during the alcoholic fermentation these sugars will become alcohol so the fermentation has to be stopped at a precise time according to the quantity of sugar that we want in the wine.
Sweetness in three styles
We can get the right sweetness in three ways, the first is the addition of various sugars that enrich the wine; this method is not allowed in Italy, although it is a very ancient practice: the ancient Romans (but also the Greeks) liked to add honey and resins to spice the wine. It is, however, permitted the addition of concentrated must.
In Italy we have a lot of sun, the most powerful natural sugar factory in the world: the more the grapes will be under the sun, the more the berries will lose water, concentrating sugars, yeasts and enzymes.
In September and October if you visit wineries producing red or white sweet wine, you will see the grapes still hanging on the vine, or laid on wicker beds or hanging in the roof.
In Tuscany for making the Vinsanto, the sweet white wine, the wineries hung the white grapes, such as Malvasia and Trebbiano, in the roof, from September up to December, when all the juice is evaporated and the sugar is concentrated. After that the raisin are pressed and transferred to chestnuts wood barrels and forgot for years. If you take a Tuscan wine tour with us, you will have the chance to try a very old Vinsanto, aged at least 10 years.
Instead for the sweet red wine, the fermentation of these sweet berries, will be interrupted at some point to stabilize the wine’s sweetness. The interruption of the fermentation is obtained by adding alcohol, or lowering the temperature or, by filtering the must to eliminate completely the yeasts that otherwise would restart the fermentation.
Third method: the “noble mold”
The third method requires the popular “noble mold” (Botrytis cinerea), which helps both the concentration of sugars and processing of the substances inside the berries, creating great complexity aromas. The development of this mold requires precise and favorable natural condition : the grape skin not too thick to allow the mold to get into the berry, moisture in the morning because the mold develops and dry afternoons to stop its excessive development.
and now … let’s drink them
The ideal tasting temperature for these sweet red wines is between 10 °C and 18 °C and for the glass, choose the long stem glass that will bring out their wonderful aromas gradually.
Book now your special and exciting wine tour: Chianti and Super tuscan Wine Tour from Florence, 3 wineries!
Duration: Every day from 9:30 am to 5.00 pm
People: min 2 – max 16, mixed