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sapa, vin cotto, mosto cotto

What is it?

Saba is reduced grape must (unfermented grape juice) from Italy. This brown, syrupy substance has a sweet, concentrated, almost prune-like flavor. Depending on region, dialect, or translation, it can go by several names: saba is from Sardinia, sapa is from Emiglia Romagna; in Apulia, the syrup is called vin cotto, and in yet another Italian region the same may be called mosto cotto. Other countries with winegrowing regions also have versions of this grape-must syrup—Turkey’s is called pekmez, and in Palestine it’s dibs. Whatever its name, the syrup is terrific with roasted grapes or pears, drizzled on strong cheeses such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Gorgonzola, or brushed on roasted lamb or duck.

How to choose:

Saba is available at specialty foods stores or online at gourmetsardinia.com; $14.50 for a 9-oz. jar.

How to store:

Store in a dark place at cool room temperature.

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  • Recipe

    Grilled Tomatoes with Saba and Sea Salt

    Saba is a syrupy condiment from Italy made from reduced unfermented grape juice. Balsamic vinegar is a good substitution if reduced until slightly syrupy.

  • Recipe

    Duck Breast with Saba and Grapes

    Reduced grape must (saba) boosts the grape flavor in this rich, sweet sauce. Serve with wilted spinach and roasted turnips or potatoes.


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