Grappa – not just for lighters anymore

on 01/10/10 at 10:16 pm

Spirits

“Lighter fluid”. That’s the way I used to describe grappa. Between getting better stuff and my taste developing, I’ve really come to really  love it. If anyone is at a loss of what to buy me for a birthday or Christmas present there is always that answer. I really don’t know why it should be expensive but it is and it’s definitely worth getting something that costs a few dollars more. Otherwise you may have the urge to use it to start the charcoal on the barbie.

In some ways it’s part of the Italian genius for making do (what is the Italian word/phrase for this?) with what meager ingredients are at hand. If you were a contadino (farmer) who grows and presses grapes to make your own wine, then after you press the grapes there’s all this stuff left over after you pour off the grape juice. It’s basically the seeds, stems and peels from the grapes. It is important to then separate the stems and seeds from what remains. You might ask why but of course I’m going to tell you anyway. If the woody stems and seeds are fermented along with the rest, the pomace, then the distillation process will then produce wood alcohol as part of the mix, which is poisonous. Italy finally made a law requiring farmers to sell their pomace to grappa makers because so many of them were killing themselves off.

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