On this Holy Day in Italy – venerdì santo, or Good Friday – the question is: Vin Santo or Vino Santo?
Holy cow, as Phil Rizzuto used to say, we are not talking about the holy wine they use on the altar during Mass, OK? We are talking about sweet wines, dessert wines – although pair a Vino Santo with some gorgonzola and sigh! La morte sua!, as they say in Italian – it’s to die for!
Vin Santo (a blend of Malvasia, Pinot Bianco, and Trebbiano grapes) is probably the better-known of the two, as it comes from the better-known regions of Tuscany and Umbria, and is often paired with cantucci, those almond cookies known as biscotti in the Anglo-Saxon world.
Vino Santo, on the other hand, comes from the northeastern Trentino region, and there are only 5 producers of it, so it’s a bit harder to find… But let me tell you, it’s worth looking for!
Vino Santo is made 100% from the Nosiola grape, but one of the big differences is the botrytis cinerea, that noblest of molds, or bunch rot as it is known to its friends, that attacks the Nosiola!
Vino Santo is pressed only now, during Holy Week leading up to Easter – and that is where it gets its name!
Un nome, una garanzia (a name is a guarantee), as they say in Italian! Vino Santo is simply divine!