Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
What can you tell me about vin santo?
—Stephanie Lynn Gelberd, Irving, Calif.
Vin santo is a late-harvest wine from Italy, generally Tuscany. It’s usually made from white grapes, namely Trebbiano or Malvasia, that are semi-dried before being pressed and fermented; then the wines are stored in small barrels for up to 10 years, usually in attics which turn hot and cold with the seasons. There is a wide diversity in styles, from sweet dessert versions to dry, Sherry-like styles, and quality varies widely, too. Prices in our database for a half-bottle of vin santo range from about $15 upward to around $250. For the good stuff, you should expect to pay at least $30 or so.
Many, many years ago, when I was first falling in love with wine, friends brought back a bottle of vin santo from Italy along with a bag of tiny almond biscotti called cantucci. They showed me how to soften the biscotti in the wine, which made the rock-hard biscotti fun to nibble on and really brought out the nutty, dried fruit flavors in the wine. I’ve had a soft spot for vin santo ever since.