Distillates and liqueurs

Distillation has deep historical roots in the Marche thanks to monks who, already in the XV century, dedicated a great deal of passion and time to the creation of regenerating beverages.

Truffle bitters, coffee liqueurs, but above all anise liqueurs, are local

products with a worldwide market. The symbol of areas such as the Sibillini Mountains, anise, Pimpinella anisum, is a word with roots in both Latin (anisum) and Greek (anison).

Mistrà is a slightly sweet, full-bodied anise liqueur with a pleasant dry and bitter aftertaste, and its history dates back to ancient times. It has a medium alcohol content and is rich in aromas and medicinal properties. The name Mistrà comes from Mystras (a Byzantine city) or from the  Italian word for mix, mischia (because it is mixed with water), and is made in Ascoli Piceno and Macerata. It can also be sipped neat or added to “correct” your espresso.

Anisette, which is sweeter, is an Ascoli Piceno classic and is served at Caffè Meletti on the famous Piazza del Popolo. It can be enjoyed in the morning and is delicious with dessert; when added to espresso it is thirst quenching and helps digestion.  Another custom is to drown 3 or 4 coffee beans in a glass of it.

Peasant traditions in the inlands gave origin to vino cotto (or cooked wine), sapa and vino di visciole, or sour cherry wine. The production zone of vino cotto is very extensive and includes large parts of the provinces of Macerata, Fermo and Ascoli Piceno.

Sapa could be defined as a close relative of vino cotto and is made by boiling the wine must directly on the fire until some 70-80% of it has evaporated. The result is a very sweet grape syrup with a colour that varies from amber to a red-purple. It has an intense aroma of caramel, and tastes something like thick, fullbodied, creamy honey. In the past it was often used like honey, as a substitute for hard-to-find sugar, but today it is paired much like fruit chutneys with flavourful, seasoned cheeses.

In the Jesi and Pesaro areas they make a wine with sour cherries. Today, in order to avoid applying names not permitted by

law, the product is sold with a label which says “aromatic wine-based sour cherry beverage.” Sour cherry wine, or vino

di visciole, is made by fermenting wild cherries from the hills or mountains with local red wine in proportions which vary from place to place. It has an extraordinarily intense bouquet in which the fruitiness of the red wine binds beautifully with the aroma of the cherries. It goes very well with jam tarts and all of the local traditional dry baked goods.

Text was taken up and elaborated by the pubblication “Made in Marche – 0km flavours and quality shopping”