The production of vin cotto is a centuries-old Italian tradition that transforms unfermented grape must (the product of freshly-pressed grapes) into a syrupy-sweet, irresistible concoction. Vin cotto literally translates as “cooked wine,” and essentially, that is exactly what it is.
Though it once seemed that one had to travel through the hidden hill-side villages of Italy before discovering vin cotto, awareness of this Italian gem has begun to spread throughout America—thanks to the increased interest in ethnic and natural foods over the past few years.
Vin cotto’s concentrated flavors and subtle hints of spice complement a variety of foods, and can be drizzled (or poured) over meat, poultry, and aged cheese. Roasted chicken, for example, can be turned into something sublime after it has been thoroughly drenched in this sweet Italian novelty and liberally laced with crushed red pepper.
Home cooks do not have to rush to the nearest specialty store to get their hands on vin cotto. Delicious and easy versions, such as the one below, can also be made at home.
Combine a generous amount of red wine with your favorite spices (think “mulling” spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, or orange zest), and reduce on the stove top until thick and syrupy, or until about 1/4 of the original mixture.