Passions & Places

Vin Cotto

Vino Cotto

Since the Roman times, good old vino cotto was mixed with honey in a healthy aperitif named hydromeli (still in use in some parts of Bretagne). In a simpler version (defrutum) it was added as preservative to olive cargoes on their long trips across the sea from one coast of the great Empire to the other.

But, tradition in the Marches cites preparation of peasant origin. In the areas of Macerata and Fermo, celebrating the end of harvest or the arrival of a son with vino cotto was pretty usual. (On his wedding day, the son would find a barrel of that same drink appositely preserved to ripe for his crucial "yes").

Vino cotto (sweet or dry) drank today contains particles that may have more than hundred years. Namely, the must (of grapes or marc) is boiled for a long time in copper pots, in order to increase the percentage of sweetness. While still boiling, it is poured in small oak barrels that contain the sediment of vino cotto from the previous year – "madre" – essential to make perfect its irreplaceable sweetly bitter flavour.

Its amber colour is the result of long ripening, and its soft and equilibrated taste is ideal to water down desserts, typical cakes of the Marches (such as ciambellotto, tozzetto or cicerchiata) and roasted chestnuts.

Once, particular properties were attributed to vino cotto, more magic than medical. (It was used as balsam to make sure that legs and arms of newborn babies would grow healthy and robust.) Still today it is added in preparation of various cold meats, such as the most characteristic ciauscolo and prosciutto di carpegna.

Of course, there are several folk celebrations that prise this simple masterpiece (every year in Loro Piceno, Magliano di Tenna and in Lapedona, for example). Besides, its presence is appreciated at all peasant feasts organised in this land that loves so much its own rural culture.

And it is thanks to this love that it is still possible to find real pleasure in the most simple and the most sincere things. Things that time can only make better.

Just as vino cotto, that patiently waits to ripen in small barrels.

© 2001 Liberation Ventures Ltd.

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