The Italian Almanac
Grappa is the traditional grape-based brandy made by distilling the skins, pulp, seeds and stems left over from wine-making after pressing the grapes. Enjoyed straight, grappa packs a potent punch with an alcohol content of 35%-60% alcohol by volume, or 70 to 120 proof, prompting most consumers to drink it after a hefty meal.
Like wine, quality and price can vary, with finer varieties fetching over 100 euros, while most bottles cost less than 15 euros. Long a household item in Italy, a surge in international popularity - and overseas imitation - is bringing grappa into the mainstream.
According to the European Union and the Italian government, only grappa made in Italy can rightfully be called grappa. The trademark is protected by the EU's prestigious PGI certification, short for Protected Geographical Indication, which guarantees the unique qualities of foodstuffs and specialities which are made or grown according to traditional methods in specific areas.
To raise awareness and to protect the 136 grappa distilleries in Italy, Mazzetti's National Grappa Institute recently relaunched the website grappait.it where visitors can read, in both English and Italian, about the history, laws and upcoming events regarding the iconic Italian spirit.