I Don’t give a GRAPPA!

Grappa is a very fragrant Italian spirit made from the left-over grape solids of wine production, known as pomace or marc. There are approximately 130 distillers making grappa in Italy, primarily in the northern area – the Veneto region is the heartland of grappa production. The name Grappa comes from the Latin grappapolis, which means a bunch of grapes.

It was traditionally unapologetic on how it tasted and essentially consumed as a young spirit, but quality has dramatically improved in recent decades. Today’s examples are generous in character and represent a wide variety of styles. To reflect this, there are nine IGTs (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) for grappa, as well as regulated age designations: Affinata, which spends a maximum of 12 months in barrel; Invecchiata or Vecchia (meaning Aged or Old), aged for 12-18 months in barrel; and Stravecchia or Riserva, with a minimum of 18 months in barrel.

The Italian law dictates that the pomace must be distilled solid, with no added water. The fact that it is basically a distillate from leftovers means grappa lacks a lot of the nuances that red wine would have to offer. Which is no doubt why it has been historically, and unfairly, categorized as harsh. Italians believe that the grape skins contain many aromatic and flavour profiles. It was originally made to prevent waste by using the winemaking remains. The fact is, old school grappa might have been a bit harsh—it was a “poor man’s drink,” a leftover, something strong, with no frills, it got the job done. However, in the past several decades, grappa production has evolved to include single varietals (where 85% of the pomace is from one grape) and more sophisticated distillation methods. As with most distilling, the cheapest way to produce grappa is in a column, or continuous, still, but many grappa’s nowadays are made with both continuous and alembic, or a pot still (which imparts more congeners and flavoring compounds). What you can buy today will still be potent, but there is a balanced delicacy and a bouquet that accompanies the heat, it is truly the essence of the grape skin that perfumes the lingering sip.

Grappa is primarily served in Italy as a "digestive" or as an after-dinner drink with its main purpose being to aid in the digestion of heavy meals. For many Italians, grappa is also a folk remedy for minor ailments.

There is a reason grappa is traditionally served in a tiny glass—it is potent stuff. Historically with a rough reputation, grappa’s actually an incredible form of drinking ingenuity: give one the waste products of one fermentation process, and they will magically turn it into another fermentation process.

While grappa has many of the characteristics of dried fruit flavors and hints of coffee and chocolate, one of the main highlights is the peppery mouthfeel and the "warming" finish. Some more known ways of enjoying it, is by adding it to espresso coffee to create a caffè corretto, meaning "corrected coffee”. In the Veneto region, there is traditional use of it as resentin "little rinse": after finishing a cup of espresso with sugar, a few drops of grappa are poured into the nearly empty cup, swirled, and drunk down in one sip. A sort of ‘’grappa wash’’. It is also, a great component that is incorporated by modern mixologist in many amazing cocktails.

Whatever your tastes are, you might be pleasantly surprised by the complexity of what grappa has to offer.

For your further review, please check out a few of our amazing Grappa offerings: