Most of the Sagrantino di Montefalco wines we enjoy today, known for their massive tannins, imposing structures and near necessity to be paired with red meat, are vastly different from their predecessors.\r\n\r\nUntil modern techniques were introduced in the 1970s, Sagrantino was vinified in the passito style, air-drying the fruit on racks known as graticci to concentrate sugar before pressing. Similar techniques are used in Valpolicella for Amarone and Tuscany for Vin Santo.\r\n\r\nFor those unfamiliar with sweet red wines or accustomed to cloying American versions, Sagrantino passito\u2014still produced in Montefalco\u2014is a revelation. While there\u2019s deep, rich sweetness, it\u2019s matched by brightness and a finish that cleanses and refreshes the palate.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u201cPassito has even bigger structure than dry Sagrantino,\u201d says Li\u00f9 Pambuffetti of Scacciadiavoli, Montefalco\u2019s oldest winery. \u201cWe harvest earlier, so tannins are stronger and acidity is higher. It\u2019s an intense wine.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe flavor profile leans on dried fruits like cherries, prunes and raisins, but also features warm spices, cocoa and, especially in mature bottles, truffles. But it\u2019s more than a jumble of tastes. It\u2019s an evolving meditation wine, a provocative, romantic bombshell.\r\n\r\nHistorically served at feasts and celebrations alongside massive roasts of lamb, passito has only lately shifted to a dessert role, paired with fruit crostatas, aged cheeses and chocolate. Unlike dry red wines, whose astringency conflicts with chocolate\u2019s natural bitterness, passito is a perfect match. Look for chocolate with 50\u201370-percent cacao (anything higher could clash with the wine\u2019s tannins), perhaps with some dried fruits, nuts or spices added.\r\n\r\n\u201cOn a winter night, after dinner, we love to eat some dark chocolate and drink a little passito,\u201d says Pambuffetti. \u201cIt\u2019s simple, yet so comforting.\u201d\r\nRecommended Wines\r\nCantina Fratelli Pardi 2009; $70/375 ml, 91 points. Inky, bursting with dark fruit and baking spices. de Grazia Imports.\r\n\r\nC\u00f2lpetrone 2009; $33/375 ml, 89 points. Concentrated dried fruit and polished tannins. Vias Imports.\r\n\r\nPaolo Bea 2008; $88/375 ml. Complex, with layered notes of dried berries and herbs. Rosenthal Wine Merchant.