What is Vincotto?
Vincotto or vino cotto is an Italian, deep flavoured, non-alcoholic condiment that is produced by gentle, long simmering of grape must. Traditionally two Italian grape varieties are used. The grapes are left to wither on the vine giving this beautiful condiment it’s sweet/savoury flavours.
Vincotto’s have subtly different flavours but essentially it’s a sweet syrup with a pleasant sourness to balance the flavour. In Italian this flavour profile is called agrodolce and our taste buds love it! Vincotto has a grapey, plum-like taste alongside malty and savoury red-wine components which makes it beautifully rich and incredibly versatile for the cook.
Our preferred maker of this condiment is the husband and wife team John and Cai Thew from Cape Farm Shop, based in Margaret River in Western Australia. I’ve been using their locally made balsamic and vincotto for years in my home cooking and in classes. They make theirs with red wine, prunes and sugar to re-create this wonderful Italian syrup. No need to refrigerate vincotto as it’s concentrated; even without preservatives, simply store in a cool dark place.
Vincotto can be used in place of balsamic vinegar, in vinaigrette, relishes, when roasting, or for deglazing a pan to make sauce. And it works equally well in sweet applications such as fruit cakes. One Christmas we discovered this when adding it to our Christmas Cake. Another festive food tradition; mix through a splosh of vincotto to ready-made fruit mince, or if you make your own then still splosh a bit in!
Here are some other uses:
Jooj up an antipasto mixture of olives and sundried tomatoes by adding a smattering of fresh rosemary leaves, a small crushed fresh clove garlic and a little finely grated lemon zest. Then drizzle over a small amount of vincotto.
Add to red meat based soups, beef and veal casseroles or bolognaise sauce.
Add to fruit cakes and the fruit for mince pies.
Summer Pudding benefits from a splash.
Try drizzled on vanilla ice cream or panna cotta.
Make a vincotto cream to serve with stonefruit. Add 40-50ml vincotto to 250ml chilled thickened cream. Spoon in 2-3Tbsp icing sugar and ½tsp vanilla paste. Whisk until it holds its shape. Refrigerate until needed.
Fold in a tablespoon of vincotto to chocolate pavlova mix before baking.
Roast baby beetroot or thin beetroot slices with a drizzle of olive oil and vincotto. Splash over some apple cider vinegar. Season with salt. Cover roasting tin with foil and roast at 180°C for 30-45 minutes, until tender.
Use to deglaze the pan after searing beef fillets and you will have a beautiful syrupy sauce to drizzle over the meat – always taste jus before serving, it may well need a pinch or two of salt to balance and bring all flavours together.
When figs are in season, make a salad of fresh torn mozzarella (or Burrata) and figs, tossed with leafy salad greens and fresh basil. Dress with a mix of vincotto, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and salt then tuck in some salty slices of prosciutto. Full recipe on The Collective.
Take the classic combination of strawberries and balsamic to a whole new level by using vincotto instead.
Make a frozen coffee granita with vincotto, fresh coffee shot, sugar and water.
Dunk biscotti in vino cotto and enjoy with a cup of coffee.
Make a BBQ sauce with same quantity of vincotto and tomato sauce, add finely chopped smoked jalapenos (or a couple pinches of dried chilli flakes) to taste and a dash of Worcestershire Sauce – use to baste pork ribs or chops and cook on BBQ. Or deglaze pan with a splosh of vincotto after frying lean cuts of pork such as fillet or loin steaks.
At time of publication Vincotto is available as part of our WA Seasonal Produce Box selection.