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Grappa is a uniquely Italian drink. Traditionally, made from pomace, the discarded grape seeds, stalks, and stems that are a by-product of the winemaking process, Grappa has been around since the Middle Ages.

Grappa was originally made in Bassano del Grappa, a town of around 40,000 residents in Italy's northern Veneto region. It is from this town that Grappa gets its name. Grappa started as a by-product of the Italian winemaking trade, a rough drink made with what was available, potent enough to get the farmers through the cold winter months. It was good at warming you up, but not particularly tasty, similar to the grain alcohols of the Midwestern United States. Grappa, largely, remained a drink of the poor workmen and farmers until the 1960s.

Similar to France's brandies and Cognac, and Portugal's Sherry, Grappa is a distilled beverage. That means the mixture of grape pieces and alcohol is heated gently, allowing much of the mixture to evaporate, and leaving a potent concentration. Today's Grappa is about 40 to 45 percent alcohol. That's 80 to 90 proof. After distillation, Grappa is usually stored in glass bottles for about six months before it is distributed. The flavor profile of Grappa depends on the grape varietal used, and, generally, Grappa is potent and dry.

The character of Grappa changed in the 1960s, thanks, largely to the efforts of one woman - Giannola Nonino. Her Nonino distillery, in Percoto Italy, has been producing Grappa since 1897. In the early 1970s, she began making Grappa from a single grape, as opposed to the customary mélange of grape leftovers. She sought to make a quality drink, one to rival the great eaux-de-vie of France. It was an uphill battle. She sold very little of her first, 1973, production. Undaunted, she offered her Grappa free to journalists, restaurateurs, and asked that it be served at important commercial and government dinners. She poured the drink herself and told her story as she filled the glasses. Slowly, in this way, the charismatic Ms. Nonino created a following.
The Nonino Distillery's first single grape Grappa was crafted from the Picolit grape. Today, over a dozen different grapes are used for single grape Grappas, called "monovitigno" Grappas, a term Ms. Nonino coined herself. In 1984, the same Nonino distillery gained government approval and began producing a higher quality Grappa made from whole fruit. They began with grapes and in the following years, produced products using cherries, pear, apricot, peach, and raspberry, among other fruits. Seeking a way to show off their new products, Nonino is also responsible for the stylish glass bottles in which Grappa today is sold, a dramatic change from the old medicinal-style bottles.
Traditionally, Grappa is served chilled in small glasses and served after the meal, as the Italians believe that it aids digestion.


-Grappa Strega (Cocktail)
Grappa, Lemon Juice, Orange Juice, Strega
-Cafe Coretto (my personal favorite for after lunch)
espresso that is "corrected" with grappa.
-Chestnut Soup with Grappa Cream
-Grappa Zabaglione

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