What is vin santo?

Ask Dr Vinny

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.

Dear Stephanie,

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.

—Dr. Vinny

Education Italy Tuscany Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

I need advice on Thanksgiving wines. Which wines pair best with turkey and sides?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers advice on selecting wines for the Thanksgiving …

Nov 21, 2022

What is a “second wine”?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the "second wine" concept and what it means in …

Nov 14, 2022

Is it bad if an old bottle of wine has sediment in it?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains that sediment happens—and how to deal with it.

Nov 7, 2022

Is it OK to change my mind about a wine after I've approved a sommelier to serve it?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains that there's a reason that sommeliers show …

Oct 31, 2022

How should I organize a tasting of 4 wines paired with 4 chocolates?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny offers suggestions for organizing food and …

Oct 24, 2022

Is it appropriate for a sommelier to sample the wine that I ordered?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny explains modern conventional etiquette for …

Oct 17, 2022