Grappa Your Sweetie!
Grappa your sweetie and snuggle in for the evening. It’s almost that time of year…Grappa is a distilled alcoholic beverage that hails from the Middle Ages. Ever frugal, the wine makers would use the remains from the wine making process to make this liqueur that ranges in US proof from 70-120. A “fire water”, it was considered a drink of “Il Povero” until someone, somewhere figured out…it’s delicious.
A true Digestivi, the name “Grappa” is now protected by the European Union. The only places in the world that can claim the name of true Grappa are Italy, naturally; the Italian speaking part of Switzerland, (near the Biella area of Italy where incidentally, they make beautiful scarves. It’s the “Land of the Wool”); and San Marino.
That’s it. Just there.
In order to ward off the cold winters, necessity was the mother of invention and they created Grappa….and they probably wore all those gorgeous scarves.
Grappa is made from the seeds, the stems, and the stalks….anything that left over during the wine making process. It’s name does NOT mean “grape”, as one would think, but rather it is named for the town from which it originates, Bassano del Grappa. I know, right? Interesting. In fact, the name for the seeds, the stems, and the aforementioned stalks that are left over have the elegant name of “Pomace.” It is from the Latin root of “Pomum” which means fruit and fruit tree.
The first time I ever had Grappa I was at the Fattoria Santo Stefano in Grieve in Chianti. It is a beautiful farm that rents rooms overlooking the Tuscan country side. In addition to wine and olive oil, they make Grappa di Chianti Classico.
Grappa has a cleansing, hot flavor that is best served, ironically, chilled. It’s strong alcohol content makes it impossible to do anything but sip it. However; that’s the point. In the evening, after dinner, when the sun has gone to bed, Grappa makes her appearance. To smell it startles your nose, and it already begins to warm your heart. If you roll it around in the glass, you can see it cling to the sides, much like the legs we look for in red wine. Sip, sip, sip gently. As you finish, you will find that it has opened you up. Your mind is open, conversation flows, your blood feels opened. It creates a special warmth inside and out. Grappa also makes her way into the “Caffe Correto”…it’s the “correto” part. It means Corrected Coffee and it does add a little somethin’ somethin’ to an otherwise lonely coffee.
Grappa can be purchased in liquor stores in the United States, of course, like everything else that is regional, if you are not in a “high percentage Italian area” it may be more difficult to find.
Drinking Grappa can be made into an event. Use a special glass. Share it with a special person. Play some music. Watch the twilight twinkle. Salute per cento anni e cin-cin.