Grappa - From Cheap Drink to Highly Praised Speciality
Italians have been enjoying this ‘fire water’ as a digestif after a meal or as an addition to espresso for generations. Over the last few years, what was once considered an inferior ‘poor man’s drink’ has developed into a highly appreciated speciality amongst international lovers of fine spirits all over the world. And rightly so! The skillful predilection to experimentation and creativity shown by modern master distillers have not only led to the development of unique and interesting Grappas - their range of aromas is simply astounding.
What is Grappa?
In contrast to brandy , Grappa is not distilled from wine, but from the so-called marc or pomace – the grape skins, seeds and (often) stems that remain after pressing. After fermentation, the marc is distilled in order to extract the aromas it contains. Following fermentation, the Grappa is then either filled into bottles as Grappa Bianca (white Grappa), or matured in wooden casks to produce a yellow to amber coloured Grappa Riserva.
Grappa can be produced either from a mixture of various grape varieties or as a varietal Grappa made from a single grape variety. In order to call itself a di vitigno or a varietale Grappa, the original grape pomace must be made up of at least 85 % of a single grape variety. The name of the varietal is then integrated into the name of the Grappa, e.g. Grappa il Moscato Monovitigno from the Nonino Distillatori, which is made from Moscato grapes, or Grappa di Barolo Margaux Cask Finish from Bocchino.
Because the demands of connoisseurs who buy grappa is continually increasing, pomace brandy is now made in Argentina, Australia, South Africa and even the USA. Since 1989, however, only Grappa from Italy is allowed to call itself ‘Grappa’.
How does Grappa taste?
The flavours of Grappa are diverse and wonderfully varied. There is simply so much to discover. The raw materials, fermentation and distillation methods as well as the subsequent maturation of the spirit are all contributing factors to the flavour of an individual Grappa.
The quality of a Grappa depends, of course, on the raw materials used to make it - the grapes. As one might expect, aromatic, fully ripe grapes make the best Grappas. And each of the Grappa grape varieties contributes its own individual aromas and characteristics to the end product. The aroma of a white Grappa is - as with wines - primarily determined by the varieties of grapes used. Vinello offers you a wide selection of varietal specialities when you buy Grappa online: from the My Grappa Bianca di Gavi, a varietal Grappa made from the Cortese grape with its light note of bitter almonds to the 100 % Verduzzo Grappa di Verduzzo Cru Monovitigno from the world famous distillery Nonino Distillatori with hints of forest honey .
A Multitude of Grappa Flavours
If you are just beginning to acquire a taste for Grappa, you have a really exciting and delicious voyage of discovery ahead of you. Aromas of apple and baked plums, acacia and geranium blossoms, forest and citrus fruits, rose and iris, as well as boxwood, pepper and juniper await you - to name only a few. The originally clear Grappa acquires a yellow to caramel brown colour over months or years of maturation in wooden casks. Wood cask matured Grappas offer you an even broader palette of flavours. Each type of wood contributes its own notes to a Grappa. Oak is the most commonly used wood for the barrique maturation of Grappas and lends notes of, among others, vanilla, almond and chocolate to the distillate. But other more unusual types of wood, such as acacia, ash, almond, plum and cherry tree, are also used for cask maturation. Give the cherrywood matured Grappa Fuoriclasse Leon Riserva 3 Anni from Roberto Castagner a try: This amber-coloured Grappa has notes of walnut and dried apricot, among others, with a long, smooth finish.
Grappa – Its Origin and History
The home of Grappa is a small town at the foot of the Monte Grappa – Bassano del Grappa. The fine pomace brandy has been produced here since the 15th Century. Especially back then, it was important to make economic use of all by-products from food production.And so it was that the thrifty and inventive Italians eventually refined pomace – the by-product left over from winemaking. The original Grappa was generally a rather coarse beverage and primarily fulfilled the purpose of giving farmers and workers a bit of solace through the winter months. It was warming, but it tasted more like grain spirit than a heavenly pleasure. And it maintained its poor reputation up until the 1960s.
The Dream of High Quality Grappa
Until Giannola Nonino entered the Grappa scene: This venerable lady changed the quality and reputation of Grappa as a fine spirit forever. It was her dream to create a high quality spirit that could compete with even the greatest French brandies. And so Signora Nonino began with the distillation of the first varietal Grappa, and from an unusual grape variety at that – the Picolit Bianco.
She still manages one of the most distinguished Grappa distilleries today, and Vinello is proud to offer you her products in our online Grappa selection. Try her original classic Grappa di Picolit Cru Monovitigno, which has fragrances of acacia blossoms, ripe quince, and full honeycomb. Or one of the riserva Grappas from the Nonino Distillatori such as the Grappa Lo Chardonnay Invecchiata 12 Mesi, with its flavours of fresh almonds and chocolate along with a pleasing bouquet of vanilla and biscuits.
You will still find the original ‘grumpy’ version in supermarkets today, but when you buy Grappa from Vinello, you can be certain that we carry only excellent grappas, produced for highest quality and optimum taste.
Serving and Enjoying Grappa
Grappa Is traditionally enjoyed in Italy on its own as a digestif after a meal. But it is much more versatile than many have been led to believe! It is a great accompaniment to coffee or added to espresso, as a cocktail ingredient, and it even gives beverages and dishes a special note. Grappa is enjoyed straight up, served in a special Grappa glass. The glass is tulip-shaped in order to allow the aromas of a good Grappa to develop properly. Grappa is generally served cool: Young Grappas should be served at between 9 and 13° C, while Riserva Grappas taste best at a temperature between 15 and 17° C.
Italian espresso can also benefit from Grappa, as the name of the popular caffè corretto (corrected coffee) implies - simply add a shot of fine Grappa to a cup of espresso. Ammazza Caffè would also not be possible without Grappa: Here, a cup of espresso is followed by a portion of chilled Grappa. Venetians tend to prefer splashing a small amount of Grappa into the just emptied espresso cup to rinse it out (and naturally drink the cleansed mixture). This tradition is called Resentin (little rinse).
Grappa in Cocktails
Grappa is still a relatively uncommon cocktail ingredient. And that’s really a shame! High quality Grappa gives mixed drinks an entirely individual character. Just give this wonderful cocktail a try, served in a Martini glass, if you are still in doubt!
- 5 fresh kumquats, cubed
- 4 dl Po' di Poli Morbida Grappa
- 3 dl Holler Sambo elderflower liqueur
- 7.5 ml sugar syrup
- 7.5 ml Merlot red wine
Instructions: Crush the kumquats in a shaker with a pestle, add the next three ingredients, shake, and then sieve into a glass. Carefully pour the Merlot over the round side of a soup spoon onto the surface of the cocktail (the wine should form a second layer on top). Enjoy your Grappa cocktail!
Tip: Store bottles of Grappa cool and standing. Spirits can corrode the cork, which might eventually have a negative effect on flavour.
Buying Grappa Online from Vinello
When you buy Grappa online from Vinello, an enjoyable, relaxing and delicious experience awaits you. Discover both famous names and exciting new Grappa specialities from relatively unknown distilleries.
When you purchase Grappa from our online wine shop, we make sure you have a smooth, uncomplicated experience. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your Grappa arrives at your home after a very short delivery time, and because the Vinello Trusted Shop offers you such a variety of payment options - even purchase on account - you are guaranteed buyer protection and satisfaction. And what happens if you order the wrong Grappa by mistake? No problem with the Vinello 28-day return policy. Additional advantages, e.g. our attractive bonus programme and our cork guarantee, are just a few of the extra services Vinello customers enjoy.
It really is easy to buy affordable Grappa online at Vinelo - with enjoyable ease!