Whether stirred in with your coffee or sipped as an after-dinner drink, a glass of grappa makes for a rich and warming treat. Made from the skin and seeds of grapes left over from winemaking, grappa is a traditionally Italian brandy. Grappa is categorized according to age, storage and grape type.
Age and Storage
Grappas vary according to age and storage. Young, or “giovane,” and refined, or “affinata,” grappas are stored for less than 12 months in stainless steel and wooden barrels, respectively, before being bottled. Aged grappa — also called “invecchiata” or “vecchia” — spends 12 to 18 months aging in wooden barrels before being bottled. Very old grappa — also called “riserva” or “stravecchia” — ages more than 18 months in wooden barrels before it’s bottled.
Grappa varieties can also be classified according to how many types of grapes are used during production. As the name implies, single-variety, or “monovitigno,” grappa is made from a single type of grape. Multiple-variety, or “polivitigno,” grappa is made from multiple grape types that differ according to ripening period, harvest time, vinification method and provenance.
Aromas and Infusions
Grappa types can be further classified according to aroma and flavor. Aromatic — or “aromatica” — grappa is made from aromatic or semi-aromatic grapes, such as Muscat or Malvasia. Flavored, also known as “aromatizzata,” grappa is infused with vegetable substances and enriched with herbal or fruit properties. In addition, the barrel may be made of one of many types of wood, such as oak, chestnut, ash or cherry, and the wood type influences the flavor of the resulting grappa.
References and ResourcesClear Creek Distillery: Grappa
Poli Museo Della Grappa Srlu: Kinds of Grappas
Poli Museo della Grappa Srlu: The Wood Types of Grappa
Departures: All About Grappa
Washington Post: There's Pleasure in the Grip of Grappa
Bon Appetit: Nonino Grappa Reviewed by the Bon Appetit Foodist, Andrew Knowlton
Life in Italy: History of Grappa
Fareham Wine Cellar: Grappa
Poli Distillerie: How Is Grappa Classified?