Sweet red from dried grapes

Sweet red from dried grapes

Today's best-selling red is Ripasso, a soft wine with a sweet touch. That sweetness comes from dried grapes used in making it. The drying of grapes is called appassimento and is the basis of Amarone and Recioto, the great wines from Valpolicella, among others.
Text: Magda van der Rijst

Sweet red from dried grapes

There are all kinds of methods for making sweet wine and appassimento is one of them. Appassimento is the Italian term for drying grapes after harvest. They are picked as soon as they are ripe enough. This is preferably done by hand to immediately select the best grapes. Best in this case means they are whole, undamaged and without mould. Loose bunches are better than compact ones, as rot and mould are more likely to occur if the grapes are packed rigidly together. The bunches are gently collected in crates and taken to the drying area.

Sun bath

The appassimentotechnique was already used in the time of the ancient Greeks. These laid the grapes on mats outside in the sun. On the Greek island of Samos, where late summer and autumn are warm and dry, this still happens, but in areas with more changeable weather and high humidity, the grapes are too likely to become mouldy and drying is done in special storage areas. 

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