Grappa is a spirit distilled from pomace, which is the discarded grape skins, seeds and stalks leftover from the winemaking process. After distillation, the spirit is either rested in glass or aged in oak. EU law states that to be called Grappa, the spirit must have been produced in Italy in one of the eight regions in which Grappa grapes are grown.
The flavour of Grappa varies according to the quality, style and flavour of the grapes used to produce it. Aged Grappa has a very different appearance as the liquid assumes an amber hue from the tannins in the oak and starts to resemble the colour of a malt whisky. Ageing mellows the spirit and creates a more complex and aromatic flavour profile.
What to expect
Cheaper mass-market Grappa can be fiery and harsh. A whiff of kerosene is a hallmark of badly made Grappa. When the stems and seeds are not separated from the grape skins, the seeds ferment, creating a harsh, oily finish. On the other hand, boutique and artisan producers tend to create well-crafted spirits using better quality grapes and more refined production methods, which creates a much smoother, more characterful spirit. Good Grappa has as much flavour as many brandies and single malt whiskies without their hefty price tag.
Did you know?
Whilst Grappa is Italian, other countries have their own versions. The French have “Marc”, the Spanish, “Aguardiente” and the Greeks “Raki”.
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