Divide halve the slices of bread and heat them in the oven, obtaining croutons; spread them with soft butter, place a slice of ham on each crouton, a sliced gherkin, completed with a grated horseradish (or the tip of a teaspoon of sauce) and serve.
Wine pairing: a red for an aperitif? It can be done, as long as it is light and served cool (around 14 ° C). The Santa Maddalena Classico Huck am Back 2019 by Cantina Bolzano, juicy and fruity, is drunk with great pleasure (13 euros, kellereibozen.com).
Cooked wine is sweet and persuasive, perfect to accompany sweets and chestnuts. A rural preparation, handed down in peasant families and with a strong symbolic value, which today relives thanks to the work of twenty cellars after a long period of hiding
One of the most ancient and ancestral traditions of the Marche countryside: the cooked wine. Imagine a large copper cauldron placed on a wood fire where a fresh grape must simmers. It is perhaps one of the lesser known products on a national level, also because cooked wine is a rural, hyper-local preparation, handed down in peasant families and with a strong symbolic value. The custom of boiling the must dates back to the time of the Piceni, the population who lived in central southern Marche since before the Romans, and in this area, the tradition of cooking grape must has continued until the days our. Cooked wine is the flag of the small town of They Piceno, in the province of Macerata. A festival has been held here in August that traces the ancient tradition. But the same custom is also valid in some towns in the province of Fermo and Ascoli Piceno and, albeit in different ways, in Abruzzo, in the province of Teramo.
Cooked wine and sapa: sweet ancestral symbols of the Marche countryside
Different products correspond to various levels of wort reduction by boiling. On the one hand there is the sapa, the rural sugar substitute: thick syrup that derives from the reduction of three quarters of the boiled must and which is used in the preparation of desserts or to season polenta. Mulled wine, on the other hand, remains a wine in all respects. During boiling it is foamed frequently, impurities are eliminated and at the end of cooking it is poured into small barrels of various woods. The aroma and vigor increase over time. What best describes the warmth of this wine is the amber color (it is called “rooster's eye”). The taste is sweet and in the countryside it served as fuel for the most difficult and heavy jobs. On a symbolic level, just think of the rites that saw him as the protagonist. In fact, during cooking, burning oak embers or fiery irons were extinguished in the boiling must, as if to infuse strength into the nectar. The limbs of babies were "anointed" with cooked wine to give them strength, as well as the custom of filling a barrel of cooked wine on the occasion of a birth. Precious dowry of wine, which would be kept until the day of the wedding of the same son. It was also administered to oxen to give them strength and used against the most common diseases such as colds, through its fumenti.
The history of cooked wine
It was already produced in the sixteenth century, as documented by the pharmacist Andrea Bacci, humanist, doctor and naturalist from the Marche region, who in the Renaissance era, referring to ancient sources, speaks and describes the Marche cooked wine. But how is it done? The must is concentrated on the fire in copper cauldrons and is reduced by a third or even up to half. In the Marches, at least, until two centuries ago, viticulture has always been residual and relegated to the subsistence of the farmer. The rows bordered the edges of the fields and, especially in the center and south of the region, the vines present were not considered to be particularly valuable. Therefore, it often happened that the grapes did not reach full ripeness and the wine did not reach the minimum of ten alcoholic degrees. To enhance these grapes and make them caloric food, the must is then cooked, left to cool and placed in oak barrels (formerly chestnut barrels). At this point, raw must is added, to restart the fermentation which lasts about two weeks and which will re-ferment again during the summer season. After a year it will be ready, but the best cooked wine is the oldest. The minimum threshold for a good product is five years, even if the most valuable remain in the wood for up to 40 or 50 years.
Clandestine. Like the mistrà
In 1962 a law prescribed that cooked wine must be produced separately from ordinary wine. So, having to choose, the local wineries abandoned this production. But a product with such a long tradition continued to live clandestinely in the countryside, as it had been for centuries. A bit of the same fate that struck the mistrà, a Marches distillate of marcs flavored with anise. The situation lasted until August 2015 when this rule was repealed and some producers have resumed producing and even exporting it, so much so that today it is fully listed among the typical products of the Marche Region.
The producers of cooked wine
Currently there are at least twenty companies that do this. Who made it a flag is there Il Lorese winery. Cristian Ercoli and Simone Forti use the original method, cooking the must in large copper cauldrons placed over a wood fire without any air chamber. In order not to disperse the copper particles, until the must boils, an iron rod is placed which, by electrolysis, attracts the micro-particles of copper. Since there is no real production disciplinary, each winery has its own production method. Il Lorese launches about 6 thousand bottles on the market a year. Each barrel has a flavor, each producer a stamp. The winery produces seven different labels: "Il Lorese", aged 5-8 years, Soleras method, that is a blend of different vintages, up to the "Decimo" and "Varco 41" (cooked wine from a single barrel) . Then there is the "Cerrone 70", a special reserve (only 20 bottles are sold per year). Inside there is the cooked wine of the 1970 vintage, with the addition of refilling of 2004 and bottled in the current year.
Another manufacturer is the Castrum Morisci winery by Luca Renzi and David Pettinari in Moresco (FM). Under the "Focagno" label, in addition to feeding the local market, cooked wine also reaches the USA, Australia, Switzerland and Eastern Europe. The company works it with mixed grapes: passerina, sangiovese and malvasia. According to tradition, in fact, it is made with white and red grapes mixed, for a price ranging from 10 to 20 euros per half-liter bottle. The cooking takes place in steel cauldrons.
The taste of cooked wine and how to combine it
But how do you recognize a good cooked wine? The color ranges from amber brown to bright brown and is defined as "rooster's eye" color. On the nose, hints of caramelized fruit prevail; Plum jam; quince and raisins often with smoky notes. The flavor is sweet, warm, enveloping, with hints of ripe fruit. The most suitable combinations are with dessert. Dry pastries, rustic pies, but also blue cheeses and gorgonzola. The local dish that goes best with it is roasted chestnuts. Without the cooked there chestnuts are not even put on the fire. A meditation wine, to be enjoyed in front of the crackling of wood in the fireplace.
Braised beef cooked in red wine with cocoa sauce, preparation
1) Clean all the vegetables and tear them to pieces. Brown them in a large saucepan.
2) Remove the cover from the piece of meat, sear the meat in a pan with very hot oil to close all pores; salted, peppered and flavored with aromas. Do not use the technique of marinating in red wine, but go directly to cooking.
3) Place the meat in the saucepan, cover with red wine and the vegetable broth and cook everything over low heat for about 2 hours. Once ready, remove the meat from the cooking juices, let it rest and cool.
4) Tighten the sauce, mix it, filter it with a sieve, then let it reduce again.
5) Season with salt and pepper, then add the chocolate (just a few flakes).
6) Cut the braised beef into one high slice, let it soak in the vegetable broth and then dip it in the sauce. Serve with polenta.
Recipe by Chef Stefano Grandi. If you want to find out something about him and the video recipes he has prepared for usclick here. In the coming days the new video recipes.
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