It is quite hard to believe that one of the most famous Italian beverages founded in some of the world's finest restaurants all over the globe was once known to be the Italian poor man's drink. It was only after Italy's post-war economic miracle that Grappa became a household name.
For those of you who do not know what grappa is or how it is made; grappa, derived from the Latin word 'grappapolis' meaning 'bunch of grapes', is a fragrant grape-based pomace brandy which is produced from the residues of skins, pips, and stalks that have been left after grapes have been pressed to make wine. Early distillers heated wine to make spirits; that is how the term Brandy originated meaning 'burnt wine'. Grappa even pre-dates distillates such as whiskey, gin and vodka.
It is said that grappa distillation found its origins in the Middle East in the early 8th century. In the 1100s grappa made its way to Europe through the Moors and their rule of Sicily. Evidence also dates the origins of grappa back to the mid 14th century in the foothills of the Italian Alps and Trentino-Alto Adige and Val d' Aosta. By the end of the 15th-century grappa was fully licensed with taxes levied on production from wine and pomace.
Probably the most well-known grappa producers are Jacopo Poli, Nonino and of course the godfather of grappa, Nardini. Nardini is Italy’s oldest grappa producer; production started in 1779 in a little town called Bassono del Grappa. Presently there are about 130 grappa distillers in Italy compared to the almost 200,000 distillers at the end of the 19th century.
In the Italian culture coffee and grappa walk hand in hand; it is mostly served as an after-dinner drink called a digestivo, as grappa is known to be an excellent digestive booster after heavy meals. Grappa is also added to espresso's to create a caffe corretto meaning corrected coffee. Another famous variation is the ammazzacaffe or the coffee-killer; the espresso is drunk first, followed by a shot of grappa in a glass. In Veneto you can find something called a resentin (“little rinser”); after finishing an espresso with sugar, a few drops of grappa are poured into the empty cup and drunk down in one sip. All three of the above traditional Italian ways taste better if sugar was added to the espresso. If you are someone who prefers to drink your coffee without sugar, it is best to rather consider a grappa liqueur.
This delicacy is also well-known in Uruguay and Argentina. This is due to the significant Italian immigration that took place in these countries. In Uruguay you can find the local version called grappamiel; honey is added to the traditional grappa and is served mainly in wintertime to warm up the throat.
Grappa is a protected name in the European Union and there is a certain criteria that needs to be met in order to call a spirit a grappa. Firstly it needs to be produced in Italy or the Italian part of Switzerland or San Marino, it needs to be produced from pomace and the fermentation and distillation must occur only on the pomace with no water being added.
There are quite a few distinctive flavors of grappa such as woody, plum, date, cheese, floral and also the flavor of burnt rubber to only name a few. The flavor of Grappa depends on the type and quality of grapes used, as well as the distillation process. When it comes to tasting grappa, it is always better to start with a young grappa and then move on to an aged variant. Begin with a grappa that has a lower alcohol percentage and leave the flavorsome grappa towards the end of each category of grappa. Most grappa is clear which indicates a distillate that is unaged, however aged grappas are more common these days and tend to have a yellow or red-brown hue from the barrels in which they are stored in.
A good quality grappa usually consists of a 40% alcohol percentage alcohol per volume but some variants consist of between 35 to 60 percent alcohol per volume.
Just like wine needs to be stored properly, no exceptions are made when it comes to Grappa. Bottles should always be stored in an upright position, especially the bottles with cork stoppers as the spirit attacks the cork, store your grappa out of direct sunlight and keep away from heat and make sure to always reseal the bottle once opened as the clear spirits lose subtle aromas gradually due to oxidization.
What made Paolo Mastrogiuseppe, founder and designer of Super Veloce inspire to incorporate a grappa dispenser into his masterpieces? Being Italian, it was important to integrate the tradition of the relationship between coffee and grappa into his artworks so that individuals who purchase his machines can also get a taste of the ultimate world-famous Italian tradition. Grappa distillation have been passed down to his family from one generation to the next so without saying it was very important to embody the Italian culture with the Super Veloce brand. The Italians truly do everything with passion, whether it is engineering, fashion or creating some of the world's most famous artworks, the proof is in the pudding, or in this case in the grappa.