Dessert wine aromas

Sweet or passito wines are fragrant, intense and balanced and are very satisfying to drink! These so-called dessert or meditation wines can be obtained with a large number of grape varietals and different production techniques. They have characteristic aromas and balance a high sugar content with good acidity.

They are typically called dessert wines because they have a high sugar content, intense aromas and an acidity that stands up to the sweetness and intense flavours of a dessert.

They are also called meditation wines because their balance of sweetness and acidity makes them pleasant to drink even on their own without being paired with food, lled and tasted over and over again, always presenting new aromas.

These wines can be grouped as: passito wines, oxidized wines, and "botrytised" wines.

Passito wines are wines obtained from grapes that have been dried: by collecting them and then letting them dry-out; or by "twisting" the stalk and letting the grapes wither on the plant before harvesting them; or simply by harvesting late (over-ripening the grapes). Withering has two main effects: the increase in sugar concentration due to dehydration, and the initiation of chemical reactions inside the grape that initiate the development new aromatic substances. Passito wines are typically fermented in the barrel and then refined in the bottle for long periods of time.

The aromas typical of passito wines which develop during the drying phase are: dried figs, jam, prunes, honey, candied fruit, coconut, cloves, exotic fruit, orange blossom, etc. Often very fragrant and aromatic wine varietals are chosen in the production of these wines so that they retain some of their distinctive character even after drying: for example Malvasia, Moscato, Zibibbo, Chardonnay, Fiano. With the withering technique, the characteristic varietal aromas tend to fade and the new aromas prevail because of their intensity. Some examples of these wines are: Moscato di Pantelleria, Piccolit del Friuli, Ramandolo, Tuscan Vin Santo, Recioto della Valpolicella, Traminer Aromatico passito, and many others.

Botrytised wines are made from "moldy" grapes... But not just any mold, a “noble” mold. The mold must be bortitis cinerea which grows only in some specific areas that are characterized by a humid climate in the morning and sun in the afternoon. In these conditions, mold induces the concentration of sugars in the grapes and chemical reactions occur that develop new aromatic substances. The most famous example is that of the French Sauternes obtained mainly from the Sèmillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grape varietals. Botrytised wines have a very complex bouquet rich in different layers. Some of the most characteristic aromas are: lime, apricot, quince, honey, orange peel.

Oxidized wines are obtained by exposing the must or wine to the air during the winemaking process. Exposure to oxygen can occur before, during or after fermentation. The aromas induced by oxidation in these wines are reminiscent of tobacco, chestnuts, walnuts, cane sugar, fenugreek, leather, to name a few. The wines obtained in this way are the most diverse in terms of production method, grape variety and organoleptic characteristics: Marsala (aromas of apricot, vanilla, tobacco, etc.), Porto (aromas of blackberry, raspberry, cinnamon, chocolate, etc.), Madeira (aromas of walnut, hazelnut, peach, orange), Vin Santo Toscano (aromas of figs, rose, caramel, almond, etc.), Jerez / Sherry (aromas of fig, date, hazelnut, coffee, molasses, etc.). Many oxidized wines include the addition of distillates during winemaking which increases their alcohol content, blocks fermentation, and in some cases enriches their aromatic content.

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