Grappa has to be one of the most infamous spirits in the world. So many people scrunch their face up at the mere mention of the stuff. I used to do exactly the same. My first experiences of it were bottles of moonshine distilled by mates who were big into their Moscato D’Asti production, and not so much into picking their heads and tails properly. It was rank stuff really, and was the main cause of quite a few hurried trips to the bathroom. But, as I found out during a recent tasting, the good stuff (as with so much in the spirit world) is where it all makes sense.
What Is Grappa?
Grappa’s a spirit produced across Italy. Once the wine makers finish pressing the grapes to get the juice to make wine, they’re left with a load of skins and pips and things like that. That “wine waste” still has lots of flavour in it, so some bright spark decided to throw it all in with a high strength neutral spirit and distil it. Grappa is the end result of that.
Problems In The Past
It’s worryingly easy to make bad Grappa. If you have bad grapes, you’re going to get bad, poorly flavoured Grappa. That’s for a start. Next up is if you don’t know how to distil properly, then you’re going to get, at best, bad Grappa and at worst, dangerous Grappa. When you distil, there are some nasty compounds as well as some nice compounds that come off. Distillers across the spirit world train for years to know when and what to collect. If you don’t know what you’re doing it can be pretty ropey stuff.
How To Get Into Grappa
The only way to get into the stuff is find yourself a producer that knows what they’re doing. That’s exactly what I came across at the Enotria tasting in London a few weeks back. The team at Nonino, who’ve been going for more than 100 years, took me through their range. From entry level, to aged statements, and through a whole host of different grape varieties, it really becomes clear why Grappa is so successful. The subtleties that spirit lovers crave are there in abundance if you know where to look. You’ve just got to put a bit of love and care into producing. Simple, eh?
Cheers so much to Nonino for their time, I loved it!