Vincotto is a non-fermented grape must which is reduced to a syrup. I came across it in Puglia. I go virtually every year to a converted commune in a little village near Lecce. Apart from the fact that it’s a lovely place to stay, I am particularly fond of the cookery in Puglia, and vincotto is a product of that part of Italy.

It’s such a good way of enriching a red wine sauce. I do find red wine sauces quite acidic when you reduce them. Vincotto is very sweet so it balances the sauce very well. You start off by using a teaspoon of it and just build up. Bear in mind it’s a bit like balsamic vinegar, it’s that strong.

I make a ragu, sometimes with red wine, sometimes with white. If I’m using red, I add some vincotto and it increases the concentration of wine and brings up the colour, so you get this really deep red.

The other thing I do is make a simple dressing. I like adding a bit of sweetness as well as salt. It’s something like: 4 tbsp olive oil (not extra virgin), 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, ½ tsp of vincotto and a generous pinch of salt.

It has a really lovely fragrance about it, and I’m sure if I thought about it I could come up with a lot of other things to pour it over – such as fresh figs. It’s one of those ingredients I use and don’t tell anyone about, but probably you would take some satisfaction in.