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cooked grape must

The vincotto of the Sibillini mountains produced since Roman times, the word sapa (often spelled saba) comes from sapore or 'taste', and today is only manufactured by a handful of artisinal producers, including the Baleani family in Ripe San Ginesio, Macerata. Three kinds of grapes—Vernaccia Nera, Maceratino, and Sangiovese go into it; the grapes are left until they are as ripe as can be and full of sugar. The fresh must (mosto) is then pressed and boiled in copper pots for two days until the juice is reduced by two thirds (whole walnuts are thrown in to keep it from sticking to the bottom).

The result is sweet, syrupy, thick and dense. It's used in traditional desserts such as zilicas and gnocco fritto; as a red food colouring; to accompany strong aged cheeses; as a topping for ice cream, as an instant granita (fill a glass with fresh snow and pour the saba over it).

In Sardinia, they also produce saba de figu morisca from prickly pears, and even saba di corbezzolo from arbutus.

Other names for saba include mosto cotto, vino cotto or miele d'uva.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: design ideas