Grappa is the most Italian of all Italian spirits, obtained from a waste product, the pomace, the left over from the wine making process, was originally the poor people ‘s drink. Rich people would make and drink the wine and give the left over to the poor people for them to make their own drink, grappa, drink that until recently, did not have a great reputation amongst spirits lovers.
Grappa is often, wrongly, considered an almost undrinkable spirit with no flavour or taste, just pure, burning the throat, alcohol, due to plenty of poor quality, tasteless, grappa being produced, however, a good grappa is much more than that, and it is slowly becoming the equivalent of whisky for Italians and not, grappa is enjoying a renaissance and becoming appreciated.
The name grappa comes from the Latin word "grappolus”, a bunch of grapes, and despite the existence of Mount Grappa where during the Great War, grappa was given to soldiers before going into battle, used to instill courage to the alpine soldiers, the name doesn’t have any geographical origin.
Grappa can only be produced in Italy, many other countries in the world produce similar spirits, often having the word “acquavite” in the label, translate as "water from the vine", and it is produced all over Italy, exactly like wine, with about 130 distilleries from Sicily to Aosta Valley, however, six are the regions that for cultural reasons produce the biggest quantity: Veneto; Piedmont; Friuli Venezia Giulia; Lombardy and Trentino Alto Adige. These regions, located in the north of Italy, have the Alps and very cold winters and the grappa has been used for centuries from locals to stay warm, from correcting their coffee in the morning to a shot a mid morning.
There are different methods of distilling the pomace, the most used is the steaming method (steam produced by a special boiler) followed by the water bathing (the boiler containing the pomace is located inside another boiler) and the vacuum water bathing. Once produced, the grappa can be aged in wood exactly like for the wine, from short to long ageing, from small barrels to big barrels.
Grappa has its own glass, called Tulip Glass
, that allows the nose to open, and from its color, we can determine whether the grappa has been aged (from soft yellow to intense amber) or not, (colorless and transparent).
Serving temperature for grappa is very important, as important as for wine, with serving temperature of 15-18 °C for unaged grappa and about 20 °C for aged.
If grappa has traditionally been the end of the meal drink or to correct the espresso, “corretto”, in recent years the trend is to drink it during the meal, from appetizer to dessert. If grappa with coffee or cigar or chocolate (aged grappa for the dark and unaged for milk) is widely accepted and appreciated, grappa has proved to be a good accompaniment to fatty, acid and smoked courses, cheese is a safe choice as well as cured meats. Bold, but interesting, is pairing grappa with smoked fish.
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and discover the most Italian of all Italian spirits.