Word of the Day:passito
[pah-SEE-toh] An Italian term used both for a method of making sweet wines and for the sweet wines made this way. Passito wines begin by laying freshly picked grapes on mats (or hanging them in bunches) so that they can partially dry. This process eliminates much of the grape's water and concentrates its sugar and flavor components. Depending on the technique used, the drying time can vary from several weeks (in the hot sun) to several months (in a cool ventilated room). When the grapes are crushed and fermentation begins, the sugar content is usually high enough to take the wine to a reasonable alcohol level (see alcohol by volume) and still end up with enough residual sugar to make these wines fairly sweet.