What is Grappa and How do You Drink It?
28 May 2019
So, what is grappa? Where does Italian grappa come from? And, most importantly, how do you drink it?
If you have in mind to visit destinations in northern Italy, you can’t ignore grappa. Let’s say it: in Italy, a meal can’t be considered finished until you drink the so-called “ammazzacaffè.” This can be literally translated into “coffee-killer,” because it is meant to dull the caffeine effect.
Each Italian region has its own traditions in terms of ammazzacaffè, but we can say that when in southern Italy, usually restaurants serve the world-famous Limoncello. And in northern Italy, what will arrive at your table is – you guessed it! – grappa.
Of course, many restaurants have Limoncello, but since you’re here, why don’t you try something local? And, after a rich Milanese menu, there’s nothing better than a little glass of grappa to help with the digestion. After all, as they say: one devil drives out another.
If you’ve never seen it, grappa can be transparent, golden or brownish, and it contains around 40% alcohol. It comes from the distillation of Pomace and, exactly like for wine, the taste depends on the grapes used to make it, and on the aging. If aged in wood barrels, the color turns yellow or darker, and it gets a sweet vanilla taste.
On our Milan Food Tour, we figured out a way to taste it…by spraying it! Our clients decide if they want to spray it directly in their mouth, or on a hand and then smell it. Don’t worry, for bolder people, small glasses are provided, so you can taste it!
We picked a variety of grappa distilled from a sweet grape, with a nice floral bouquet of honey, vanilla, almond, and fruits, like apple and pear. We promise, even the most hesitant person was surprised by how sweet and smooth it can be.
Speaking of habits, how do we serve grappa in Italy? Basically, we drink it straight in small glasses, or we add it to the coffee to make the so-called caffè corretto (which literally means “corrected coffee”). The quantity served depends on you, and on where you are. Don’t be surprised if, in simple trattories in the countryside, they pour you a big quantity! If a local Italian family hosts you, it may happen that, after dinner, the host proudly opens his liquor cabinet for you and describes the features of each variety of grappa in it.
If you don’t like to mix your coffee with grappa, you can “rinse” the cup with some grappa after that you finish the coffee. Just put a little bit of grappa in the cup, stir and drink. Yum!
But grappa’s multiple purposes are not done quite yet! It can also be used to give a twist to a simple fruit salad. The best is with peaches; slice them, add some sugar and some grappa, and then eat them. You’ll be surprised by the taste! Same with gelato – try to put some grappa on top of your vanilla, pistachio, or chocolate gelato.
Last but not least, try to put some on meat before putting it on the barbecue; it will give it a special taste and the meat will be more tender.
We bet you’re even more curious now about Italian food and drink. So, then join our walking tour in Milan, and learn about grappa’s multiple, creative uses, and make a toast with us. Cin Cin!