Don’t Call It A Compost

4 Jun

And look! I got you a map to accent your learnings. 'Cause this is real!

Today’s post is brought to you by the word “grappa”.  First, let’s learn how to pronounce the sucker.  “Grappa” rhymes with “Big Poppa” and not “Parappa the Rappa“.  Now let’s all say it together “grah-puh”.  Sweet.

Now that we’ve learned to say it, let’s learn what it is.  I had no clue what grappa was prior to reading up on Italy.  It’s one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in Italy, where they produce 40 million bottles a year, yet I’ve never heard of it.  What else am I missing out on, I wonder.  Definitely not the Baconator.  Anyway, grappa is made from something called pomace.  And since that was another new word for me let me explain.  Pomace is what is left after wine is made.  So it’s the grape skin, the seeds and sometimes the stems.  Word is that the use of stems is on the decline as they can be bitter and, get this, they can be responsible for producing poisonous methyl alcohol.  I can hear frat boys everywhere lining up.

The pomace is added to yeast and select enzymes and then distilled.  Once it’s ready it is either bottled at once, called bianca and is white in color or it is stored in wooden casks, called riserva and is yellow or brown in color.  Either color can be between 70-120 proof.  That’s similar to the punch that vodka and rum pack.  This probably also where grappa gets its reputation as being a macho drink.  I my dad would say that this stuff would grow hair on your chest.

Grappa’s reputation has been changing a bit since the 1970s.  It had been around since the Middle Ages as a peasant’s drink but it started to become more popular in the age of ABBA.  Then in 1989 the European Union made a ruling that this liquor can only be called grappa if it was produced in Italy and was made from pomace.  There are imitators, France has marc and Germany has Tresterbrand.  Some American wineries have taken to marketing their own grappa though they may have to change the name in the future.  Might I suggest that we call it Mad Grape or Purpleasaurus Rex after my favorite Kool-Aid flavor?

How do the Italians drink their grappa?  Typically it is straight out of the freezer though the recommendation from folks who know is to serve it chilled but not allowing for freezing temps as the flavor changes.  Another popular version is popping some in your espresso and calling it caffe corretto or “corrected coffee”.  As in, “that’ll learn you good, coffee”.  If you don’t want to bother with the caffeine you can always sample some flavored with almond, honey or blueberry or other local flavors.  You may also see labels that indicate that a certain grape was used such a merlot or a pinot.  To earn this distinction 85% of the grappa’s raw materials have to be made up with that grape.

Lastly, the name grappa doesn’t come from an Italian trying to say “grape”.  It’s named after the city that first produced it, Bassano del Grappa.  This town is in the Veneto region of Italy, which includes Verona and Venice.  I plan on making the Mister sample some of this while we are on our way to visit Juliet and her balcony.  Maybe we’ll sing karaoke once we get there.


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