Panforte & vino cotto: an Epiphany in Abruzzo

Today we celebrate ‘Epifania’ that officially marks the end of the Italian holiday season and people still love to quote the old proverb L’Epifania tutte le feste si porta via (Epiphany carries away the holidays). To honor and wave goodbye to Christmas, I used the last goods of the pantry to delight my cheerful guests and serve a delicious dessert.

Some friends brought me a special gift, the famous panforte. Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert containing fruits and nuts, it may date back to 13th century Siena, in Italy’s Tuscany region. Literally, panforte means “strong bread” which refers to the spicy flavour, however the original name of panforte was “panpepato” (peppered bread), due to the strong pepper used in the cake. Panforte is usually served with coffee or a dessert wine after a meal, some enjoy it with coffee at breakfast. Today I paired it with a special festive wine, named vino cotto.


‘Vino cotto’ is a typical product of Abruzzo, it is an aromatic liquorous wine whose sweet fruity taste is very similar to passito. How it’s made? After pressing the grapes (usually Montepulciano or Sangiovese) the must is cooked over high heat in a copper pot until the evaporation reduces the content until it becomes a concentrated liqueur. Once cooled, the juice concentrate is tucked in oak containers where fermentation takes place.

Traditionally homespun, vino cotto was kept for years in small wooden barrels and served only on special occasions like wedding, baptism and First Communion. In the past vino cotto was part of the dowry that every woman had to carry with her once married: in the peasant culture it was considered an invigorating drink while working in the fields. When a child was born (especially the eldest son), on harvesting times the father or grandfather produced vino cotto to celebrate the baby and glorify the continuity of the lineage.

vino cotto

Ingredients (serves up to 6): 300 gr panforte – 1 glass vino cotto. Instructions: cut the panforte into small pieces and arrange them on a serving platter. Pour vino cotto and serve after meal with coffee.


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