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straw wine, wine from dried grapes

White or red, sweeter and with a higher alcoholic content than normal wines, grapes for passito undergo a drying and shrivelling process known as appassimento or rasinate which concentrate their sweetness and flavours; originally it was done on straw, hence 'straw wine'. Some, like Amarone are air dried especially to avoid traces of Botrytis cinerea (noble rot).

Passito is often called for in desserts, or drunk with taralli or other hard biscuits. Some of the more famous versions inlcude vin santo, Amarone, Recioto, and Torcolato. In Piedmont, look for the rare golden Passito di Caluso DOCG, made from copper-coloured Erbaluce grapes in Caluso in the province of Torino, and rarely seen outside the region. In Umbria, the best known one is Passito di Montefalco DOCG, made with area's unique Sagratino grapes, which can explore on a wine road.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

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