Vino cotto, also known as “cooked wine,” is a wonderful dessert-style wine that you sip in small glasses that dates back to Roman times and remains ever popular in Abruzzo!
It is made by slowly reducing and concentrating grape must (unfermented grape juice) that has been simmered for up to 12 hours and then aged in oak or chestnut barrels for a minimum of 5 years. Even today you will find clay ovens are created each year to cook the wine that used to be proudly kept for wetting a newborn’s head and the bottles made that year of birth were used as part of the dowry inventory.
When made with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes the result is a thick, dark ruby-red sweet syrup with flavours reminiscent of raisins, figs, quince and caramel. Vino cotto is often used in Italian cuisine to give a sweet and fruit depth to for example roasted meats, served with cheese or a quick indulgent drizzle over desserts to add a rich and complex flavour profile. At a recent Life In Abruzzo pop-up, a big hit was Azienda Agricola Recchiuti Massimo’s aged Vino Cotto which was served with Fattoria Gioia’s artisan goat cheeses. A vegetarian recipe that I am enamoured with was inspired by Taste Abruzzo, a vino cotto and walnut pesto, you simply add a few spoons into the mix to dress pasta and is even good on bruschetta – here’s their recipe.
Vino Cotto Festivals
You can try this delicious elixir, Vino Cotto in Abruzzo at a small but interesting festival in Contrada Terranova, a frazione of Roccamontepiano (CH). It serves delicious dishes sweet and savoury that all use ‘Cooked Wine’ organised by the Associazione Produttori Vino Cotto d’Abruzzo.