The Cinque Terre’s sweet wine: from Rinforzato to Sciacchetrà

Posted on 20 January 2017, in Blog

Uva secca

In all of its 800 years of history, the wine production of the Cinque Terre has always been famous for the dessert wine, which over the years has assumed different names.
In the thirteenth century, it was born as Vernaccia, in the XVI is quoted as Vino Amabile (sweet wine), name that is conserved until the eighteenth century; later in the nineteenth century the name of Amabile becomes increasingly rare in favor of the title Rinforzato.
The last name that appears and is still used nowadays  is the term Sciacchetrà, which in the second half of the twentieth century replaced  the term of  Rinforzato.

To better understand the name changes in that period, from Amabile to Rinforzato and from Rinforzato to Sciacchetrà we must pay more attention to the wine-making techniques used  in Cinque Terre in the nineteenth century.
In fact, as can be understood  by the names given, it passes by a term which is more associated with taste and quality (Amabile) to names that refer to the wine-making procedures.

Both descriptions highlight two characteristics: as soon as the grapes are crushed, the must is placed in the barrel  and the barrel is sealed up until springtime.

Even in the Genoese dialect the term Vin Rinforzou means strained wine, as it is preserved in strongly closed jars.

After the term Rinforzato, the sweet wine of the Cinque Terre was named Sciacchetrà. On the origin of this term there is much discussion. One of his major interpreters, Walter de Batté, dates it back to the semitic Shekar, designating fermented beverages.
More likely, the term Sciacchetrà, (word of the Genoese dialect)  means virgin wine, wine that has not reached yet  its perfection, which has not finished boiling. From the Ligurian dialect "sciaca" means  crush/press and "tra" means bring out the wine from the barrel quickly.
The first time when the term Sciacchetrà is reported is in the nineteenth century in a poem  entitled “Olea Romantica" of the Genoese poet Martin Piaggio, where the term is used to describe a wine with quite high alcohol content.
From 1920 onwards the term Sciacchetrà will become increasingly widespread.


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