Passito is an Italian sweet dessert wine made from dried grapes. The name “Passito” comes from the Italian word “appassimento,” which translates to "withering." The drying process concentrates the sugars in the grapes, leading to wines with higher alcohol content, sweeter flavor, and tannins.\nDried-grape wines were developed in ancient Greece, likely to extend the shelf life of wine since dried-grape wines are more alcoholic and stable. The winemaking technique for dried grapes spread throughout the Mediterranean, and the Romans brought it with them as they conquered Europe.\n\nPassito wines remained extremely popular throughout Italy during the Middle Ages and until about the fourteenth century. Passito wines are rare today, but Italy still boasts more dried-grape wines than any other country, including Greece.\nThe traditional winemaking process for Passito—since about 500 BCE—involves letting the grapes partially dry on the vine, then spreading the grapes on screens covered with reeds to finish sun-drying. The modern process for making Passito is as follows:\n\n1. __Pick the grapes__: Most Passito winemakers pick the grapes just before they reach full ripeness, increasing acidity and reducing the chance of *Botrytis cinerea* or noble rot, which is not a desired quality for Passito.\n2. __Dry the grapes__: Next, dry the grapes indoors in lofts with open windows for ventilation. Some winemakers, though, still sun-dry their grapes. The grapes dry for three weeks to six months, losing 10 to 60 percent of their moisture content, depending on the grape variety and desired style of wine. \n3. __Ferment the grapes__: The grapes are then gently crushed and fermented in wooden barrels for weeks, months, or even a couple of years. \n4. __Aging__: After the initial fermentation, the wine is then racked from its lees (the sediment is removed) and may be aged for several years in wooden barrels or metal tanks before bottling.\nIn Italy, Passito is a vino de meditazione (wine of meditation), meaning that it's too alcoholic and/or sweet to pair with food. These Italian wines are usually sipped slowly after dinner, either alone or with a small plate of [biscotti](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-make-almond-biscotti).\n\nItaly produces several categories of Passito wines, each with its own unique flavors.\n\n1. __Recioto__: Recioto is a dried-grape wine from the Northeastern region of Veneto. It is very sweet since the grapes must dry from fall harvest until at least December 1, by law. Examples include Recioto di Soave, a rare, sweet white wine with a fruit-forward flavor made from Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave grapes, and Recioto della Valpolicella, a more widely available red wine made from grapes including Corvina and Rondinella. \n2. __Amarone__: This is a dry wine traditionally macerated for an extended period and aged for many years in old wooden barrels. This strong red wine comes from Valpolicella in the Northeast of Italy. Made from the same grapes as Recioto della Valpolicella, Amarone is also known as Recioto Scapata (escaped recioto) since the wine has "escaped" and fermented to dryness.\n3. __Vin Santo__: This "holy wine" from Tuscany is amber in color and ranges from very sweet to completely dry. It is made from Trebbiano Toscano and [Malvasia](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/malvasia-wine-guide) grapes and sometimes [Sangiovese](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-sangiovese) grapes, which were traditionally dried on straw mats under the rafters of peasants' houses. \n4. __Passito di Pantelleria__: The Island of Pantelleria, located between Tunisia and Sicily, produces one of the country's best-known Passito wines. It is made from [Moscato](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/guide-to-moscato-wine) di Pantelleria grapes which have been sun-dried according to the traditional manner, which results in volatile acidity and a very sweet, robust flavor.\n5. __Picolit__: This dried-grape wine varietal from the Friuli region of Northeast Italy is known for its apricot flavor. Picolit enjoyed international recognition in the 1960s and ’70s.\nWant to learn more about the culinary arts? The [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com/) provides exclusive video lessons from the world’s best chefs and wine critics, including James Suckling, Lynnette Marrero, Ryan Chetiyawardana, Gabriela Cámara, Gordon Ramsay, Massimo Bottura, and more. \nPassito is a sweet wine from Italy made with dried grapes.