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Vino Cotto – a traditional and delicious way to enjoy harvest in the Winelands

It is harvest-time in the Winelands – surely the most exciting time of the year on a wine farm. More than wine, harvest-time also offers grapes and must – two lovely seasonal ingredients to cook with.

Last year we shared the story of must – its ancient history and how it has probably been introduced to the Cape by the French Huguenots. Since the early days, cooks in the Cape Winelands have used must to bake the famous mosbolletjies* and to add flavour to savoury recipes such as the duck in sweet-and-sour-sauce we shared before.

One other product of the harvest, is Vino Cotto. Similar to Defratum, it is made by slowly cooking down the grape must to form a thick syrup.

This delicious, naturally sweet syrup contains no vinegar or alcohol, making it quite a versatile condiment and ingredient in the kitchen. It is very concentrated and rich and will add a lovely flavour dimension to many dishes.

  • It is delicious with most meats and vegetables and works well in sauces. Squeeze over a creamy risotto.
  • Drizzle over a variety of cheeses, fruit and yogurt.
  • Top your favourite ice-cream, cakes, pancakes, waffles and French toast.
  • As a healthy, tasty alternative, use Vino Cotto instead of honey, maple syrup, corn or golden syrup when baking biscuits, cookies or cakes.

Make your own Vino Cotto

Wash and dry grapes and separate them. Then press them and filter the juice to clear it from pips, filaments or skin. Simmer the juice for several hours, stirring often with a wooden spoon. It is ready when it is dense and runny like honey.

You can also add distilled vinegar to your Vino Cotto to make your own version of a Balsamic-type vinegar and, if you want to make a delightful salad dressing, add some olive oil.

*A typical South African sweetish bread – similar to brioche – baked by using must as raising agent and often dried as rusks.


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