What food to pair with Vin Santo?
No visit to Tuscany is complete without a glass of Vin Santo or ‘holy wine’, a (usually) sweet wine that is served at the end of the meal, almost always with hard little ‘cantucci’ biscuits.
It’s left undisturbed for several years in small barrels which gives it a slight ‘rancio’ (oxidised) character which sounds unpleasant but actually gives the wine balance and ‘bite’, preventing it from being over-sickly.
It struck me as I was sipping it that it would be a good partner for many other foods, though when I ventured this to my Italian hosts, the LoFranco family of Fattoria la Vialla they looked at me as if I was mad. But if you have a bottle in the house why on earth not experiment?
I would say Vin Santo resembles more in style fortified wines such as sherry, tawny port and particularly Madeira than other dessert wines so try the following matches:
- Blue cheese (especially Gorgonzola)
- High quality dark chocolate bars
- Nut-based tarts such as walnut tart and pecan pie - and Italian-style chestnut cake
- Panforte and other dense cakes made with dried fruit
- Mince pies
- Rich pâtés such as duck liver pâté - and seared foie gras if you eat foie gras (which I don’t).
I’m sure there are other possibilities - though don’t tell the Tuscans!
Image © Mariusz Blach - Fotolia
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