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What is Sweet Italian Wine?

What is Sweet Italian Wine?

Italy boasts an abundance of sweet wines, from fragrant Moscato d'Asti produced in Piedmont to Lombardy's rich Barolo Chinato and traditional Vin Santo. And don't forget about Emilia-Romagna's refreshing Lambrusco wines either!

Central and northern Italy are well known for producing sweet wines such as the creamy, rich Vin Santo from Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes, as well as their signature dessert wines such as Moscato di Tufo or Malvasia.

Barolo Chinato

Chinato is the classic after-dinner dish of Piedmont, often prepared using Barolo wine and an elaborate mix of herbs and spices. Chinato first appeared as an antidote for various ailments like fever, colds and digestive distress in the 19th century.

Alcoholic extracts of cinchona calisaya bark, gentian root, rhubarb roots and valuable cardamom seeds are soaked into Barolo wine to extract their distinctive flavors and medicinal benefits - producing a delectably aromatized beverage with an intriguing quinine-tinged finish that leaves its mark upon the palate.

Cocchi is at the forefront of revitalizing forgotten wine categories, and this Barolo Chinato from their portfolio stands out. Crafted with wines from 2013 and 2014 vintages, this bottle offers a rich, deeply spiced take on one of Piedmont's classic drinks.

Glycerin wine can be enjoyed cold on its own or paired with chocolate desserts, but it also makes an exciting cocktail ingredient when used instead of red vermouth in Manhattan cocktails. At Terminal Bar in Denver, rye whiskey and Campari combine beautifully to form the Old Pal, while at The Gin Joint in Charleston it adds sweetness, bitterness, and herbal notes for an intriguing Shipwreck drink. Glycerin wine should be an integral part of every wine lover's collection!


This wine is an elegant golden yellow to amber wine with intense dried fig and apricot aromas with honey, raisin and citrus notes, combined with honeyed, fruity aromas. On the palate it is full-bodied yet sweet with an unexpected balsamic finish; making this an exquisite dessert wine.

Passito is a traditional Italian sweet wine produced from dried grapes treated to an appassimento process whereby they lose water and concentrate sugars, leading to richer wines with higher alcohol contents. This technique, first popularised in ancient Greece and passed down through Roman rule to modern day Italy for extended shelf life of winemaking, can now be seen used to produce both red and white varieties such as Pantelleria's Passito di Pantelleria Recioto de Valpolicella Vin Santo.

The wines produced from these grapes are both delicate and long-lived, boasting intense concentrations of natural fruit extract and authentic acidity. Best served slightly chilled on their own or with desserts and pastries such as Tuscan cantucci biscuits with almonds; or pair them with cheeses like Gorgonzola or Stilton that boast pungent flavors for optimal consumption.


Recioto, the forebear of Amarone, is one of the oldest sweet wines from Valpolicella's ancient winemaking region. A deep red wine boasting notes of dark fruits, mocha, cocoa and spices; Recioto has a pleasing acidity which prevents it from being too sweet, making it ideal for pairing with desserts such as chocolate or aged cheeses.

Amarone is an extremely versatile wine, created using the same grapes used for Amarone but aged longer and fermented at lower temperatures. Ageing often takes place in wood barrels that impart its typical cherry flavors; Le Bignele offers one with Corvina and Rondinella grapes harvested using bamboo racks (known as an arele) before being left to dry on traditional racks for optimal results.

Named for their ears-like clusters that grow at the top and sides of a larger cluster more exposed to sunlight, Recia wines take their name from Veronese dialect word Recia meaning ears. This designation comes from their history: small bunches growing there were considered sweetest when harvested after careful selection for 100 days before fermentation began and was stopped at certain points to preserve sweetness.

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What makes a wine a real Cellar Classic? From time to time we find ourselves marvelling at the creativity of the wine grower we always look to enrich our taste buds with something rather remarkable and share this with you.