What comes to mind when you hear the word “Italy?” Besides pasta and Lizzie McGuire on a red vespa, you probably (definitely) think of wine. Italy is famous for its variety of fine wines, especially the gems from its northern Tuscan region. However, there’s one type in particular that could change the way you think about happy hour. Hailing from the western coast's unique Cinque Terre, “sciacchetrà” (shah-kay-TRAH) is a rich and smooth dessert wine that can only be found in this small region of the world.

This semester while studying abroad in Italy, I was able to hike through the Cinque Terre with a few friends. Although the highlight of the trip was breathtaking coastal views from the mountains, our post-hike “treat-yo-self” dessert was a close match once I paired it with a newfound sweet wine.

How I got the 4-1-1

I first heard of sciacchetrà from a family friend who lived in Italy for three years. Trusting her #cultured experience in Italy, I ordered sciacchetrà after several “OMG you soooo have to try it” texts. The results? Unbelievable.

How it's made

After a meticulous fermenting and aging process, this unique citrus-hinted drink boasts flavors like honey, dried fig and apricot. Made from various grapes like bosco, albarola and vermentino to create a drier texture, the end product is pleasantly surprising, sweet and satisfying. However, it doesn't take a sommelier to understand the perfect taste.

Sciacchetrà: a love story

When the waitress first brought me the tiny wine glass with a tray of almond biscotti, I was slightly disappointed by the size of the glass — after 5 hours on the hiking trail, I was thinking I'd need a little more. However, once I took a sip, those fears quickly faded as I realized how strong this wine actually is. When I finished my glass, the thought of never having another sip of this sweet and rich dessert wine was devastating. That is, until I realized there were countless bottles for sale waiting for me at the shop next door.

Why it's worth it

Although a bottle of this special wine reaches prices of $70, it is worth every penny (or rather, Euro). A pricy sciacchetrà proves to be real gold in a country where every "standard" bottle is already high-quality. If you’re lucky enough to travel out to Cinque Terre, make the most of it and treat yourself with this dessert wine. Then tell your friends how you became an Italian wine expert after a life-changing glass of sciacchetrà. Don't just take my word for it, go visit Italy's charming coast and sit back with a nice glass. As Lizzie McGuire would say, "this is what dreams are made of."