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Guide to Italian Grappa

Guide to Italian Grappa

In Italy, after a hearty meal on a cold winter's night, we reach for grappa, a traditional digestivo, or after-dinner drink. Learn more about this Italian liquor with our guide below.

WHAT IS GRAPPA? 

Grappa is made by distilling the pomace (a blend of grape seeds, stalks, and stems) leftover from the wine-making process. (It's the perfect example of a zero waste product.) The resulting clear liquor is not light by any means — on average, it contains 35 to 60 percent alcohol by volume!

HOW IS GRAPPA MADE?

The pomace is combined with alcohol, then heated. This allows the mixture to separate, leaving behind a super potent beverage that is bottled and aged for up to six months.

When producers first began making grappa, they took a "mix-and-match" approach and used a blend of pomace from a variety of grapes. In the 1960s, producers began experimenting by making it with a single grape for a higher quality drink and adding sugar for a less intense flavor.

Today, the digestivo is a protected name under European law. In order to be called "grappa," it must be produced in Italy and made entirely from pomace following a specific distillation method. Absolutely no water can be added!

HOW DO YOU DRINK GRAPPA?

Today, you can find high-quality versions of both dry and sweet grappa, but rest assured: it will always be potent! It should be served in small glasses of about one to two ounces as a digestif after dinner.

While excellent on its own, it is sometimes mixed with a steaming shot of espresso to create caffè corretto, or "corrected coffee." In the region of Veneto, after finishing a shot of espresso, it's not uncommon to pour a few drops of the powerful liquor into the cup, swirl it around, and swig it back. This ritual is known as resentin, or "little rinser."

Rhine Hall Grappa bottles

Salute! Ready to get a taste? Find your local Eataly and explore our variety of Italian grappe in the wine shop.