Have you ever seen Italian people soaking a piece of bread or a biscuit in a cup of wine? Probably you noticed this particular habit watching an Italian movie or you experienced it personally as a tourist in Italy.
It’s not uncommon for Italian restaurants to bring you “cantucci con vin santo”, as a gift from the house, at the end of the meal! Cantucci are almond cookies, ready to be dipped in this sweet dessert wine called vin santo.
Where does this particular practice come from?
Probably, it has roots in the peasant tradition, when people used to live in poverty and often all they had for a meal was potatoes, vegetables, a glass of wine, and stale bread. Nothing could be wasted, so the bread was soaked in wine to make it softer.
Nowadays the elder generations still soak their bread in wine, while cantucci con vin santo is also appreciated by the younger ones.
Continue reading this article if you want to know more about this particular all-Italian tradition.
What bread goes well with wine?
Tuscan bread is undoubtedly the best to be soaked in wine. This type of bread has a thin and crunchy crust, thick and soft crumb and it is totally salt-free! It is made with simple ingredients, just flour, water, and natural yeast.
This bread, both fresh and a few days old, is perfect for soaking. If you don’t live in Italy, it may be difficult to buy it, but you can try to bake it at home by following one of the many Italian recipes that can be found online.
Back in the day, people soaked in wine any type of stale bread, just to avoid wasting it.
Today, however, if you want to taste wine and bread together, we recommend you to avoid these kinds of bread:
- olive oil bread rolls;
- sandwich bread;
- bread with sesame seeds;
- olive bread;
- whole wheat bread.
Is it normal to soak bread in wine in Italy?
However, dipping bread in wine today is a practice that has almost disappeared. If you dunk some bread in a glass of wine at the restaurant, you will probably attract the attention of some observers.
Different from the biscuits (or cantucci) dipped in the vin santo (a viscous, typically sweet dessert wine) at the end of the meal, this is a real dessert of the Italian tradition.
Bread, wine and sugar: the Tuscan merenda (snack)
A slice of bread soaked in wine and sprinkle with sugar: it was the snack of those who are now grandparents and great-grandparents and even before their ancestors.
In Tuscany wine and bread are two fundamental ingredients that are found in many recipes, one in particular is their maximum expression: bread, wine and sugar.
The flavor is really special: the acidity of the wine goes very well with the “sweetness” of the sugar, giving life to a tasty and delicate snack at the same time.
Do Italians dunk biscuits in wine?
Milk and cookies? It’s overrated! Italians prefer to soak biscuits in wine… but not for breakfast, don’t worry! In fact, at the end of a meal, in addition to bread, it is not uncommon to see people soaking biscuits or even a piece of cake (like a “crostata”) in their glass of wine.
Which biscuits do Italians eat with wine?
Not every type of biscuit is suitable for soaking. For example, Italians who offer their guests some “vin santo” won’t accompany it with classic breakfast cookies. There are specific biscuits that are meant to be soaked in wine. Each of them comes from a specific area of Italy and depending on where you are, you can receive different biscuits along with your wine, at the end of a meal.
- cantucci (Tuscany): crispy almond biscuits, perfect for soaking;
- torcetti (Piedmont): rich in butter and sprinkled with sugar grains;
- baicoli (Veneto): simple and crunchy biscuits, excellent for soaking;
- tozzetti (Umbria): similar to cantucci but with hazelnuts;
- ciambelline al vino (Lazio): prepared with a rich mixture of wine and aniseed;
- tisichelle (Lazio): small sweet donuts;
- mostaccioli (southern Italy): small sweets with cocoa and various spices.
As you can see, if you want to try wine and biscuits as a dessert … You are spoiled for choice!
What does cantucci mean in Italian?
Cantuccio (singular for cantucci) is an Italian word that indicates a particular kind of toasted almond biscuits from Tuscany.
But the word cantuccio in Italian means “small corner of a room” and is also used to describe a small and crusty piece of bread.
What is the difference between cantucci and biscotti?
Biscotti is a generic term that refers to all those dry sweets made with flour, butter, sugar, and various flavors. Italians usually eat biscotti for breakfast, together with milk or as a snack.
Cantucci, on the other hand, is a particular type of biscotti, originally from Tuscany. They are not eaten for breakfast but soaked in vin santo or another dessert wine at the end of a meal.
During your next trip to Italy, don’t settle for classic desserts like ice cream, zeppole, or tiramisu! At some point, you should finish your meal with cantucci and vin santo. It will be a wonderful treat for your taste buds!