Wine & Food

Snooth User: rhill2990

Grappa /Pairings

Posted by rhill2990, Feb 27, 2010.

I meet regularly with a particular group of people. I usually provide the beverages and snacks. I have been bringing different wines and after dinner liqueurs. I am trying to get my March "menu" set. I was thinking of getting some grappa. I have never tasted grappa myself and am unsure of it's properties, what to shop for and what it might be paired with. The snacks are usually some form of simple dessert. The other thing is that I usually bring two types of wine to try. What other liqueur could be paired with the grappa with some form of common dessert?

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Replies

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Reply by dmcker, Feb 27, 2010.

I was introduced to grappa, and have had it most commonly since then, as a digestif after multiple-course Italian meals. Often with espresso, and I guess a key part of my personal ritual for that type of feast. I very much like the balance of the big meal with wine, followed by a dessert, whether tiramisu or zuppa inglese or many other possiblities, followed (or accompanied) by one or more grappas and a double espresso (and occasionally a cigar). So to me it's seemingly by nature something to have after a meal. Strange that I don't feel that way about calvados or whisky or tequila. But anyway, this is just my experience, and I'm sure other people may drink it differently.

Before coming back to what to have with it, we need to talk about grappa itself. It's just eau du vie made from grapes, Italian style, and in that respect is a somewhat distant relative of schnapps or aquavit or vodka, but close cousin of marc and many other grape brandies. It comes in a range of flavors resulting from not just the distiller's style, but also the grape varietal from which it's made. A muscat grappa is very different from a nebbiolo grappa, just as the wines from those grapes are, too. And of course a Jacobo Poli is different from a Frescobaldi is different from a Prime Uve... and so on. I've only drunk Italian grappa and so can't speak to those from California or other New World regions. But an important question at this juncture is what varietal and producer of grappa are you planning to serve?

Back to the food to serve with it, I have another question or three. Are you serving a full meal, a series of snacks or...? Is the grappa to follow wine, or is it the theme of the evening? This will lead to a discussion of whether you're going to be serving it with sweets or savories. And just what grappas are you planning to serve?

If you've never had grappa before you'll likely find it very different from French, Spanish or Greek brandies. It's an animal of its own breed, in my experience. I like it very much, both despite and because of that.

So present some more of your ideas about the evening and we can customize some 'snacks' for your group to have with that distinctively delicious grappa...

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Reply by rhill2990, Feb 27, 2010.

Thanks for responding, Dm. This group is basically a discussion group. We get together and discuss various topics. For example, during March, we are all bringing our favorite "sacred" music and will be listening to each others selections. The makeup of the group is quite broad in terms of people's background. There is just one other in the group that has any wine knowledge. Most are unfamiliar with any brandies or liqueurs at all. One in the group likes port, but he likes Gallo probably non-vintage and cheap and probably unappealing to me. I usually bring a dessert or snack of some type. Could be savory or sweet. I really have the private agenda of enlarging my exposure to liqueurs/wine and broadening their experiences. No common meal is involved in the evening. This is basically a non-smoking group, so cigars are out of the question. I think I would like to start with my tasting of grappa with kind of a good "classical" grappa. I am thinking Italian.

Thank you for any input you can provide.

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Reply by dmcker, Feb 27, 2010.

So you've never had *any* grappa before? Are you interested in milder and sweeter, or are you up to some of the more industrial-strength flavor profiles? I suppose tips on types of whiskies or brandies you like (and Italian grape varietals) might be useful before I consider any particular recommendations. Also, what kind of budget are you considering? As with wines and other brandies, the finer ones are more expensive (and also that much harder to find since the market is so much smaller).

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Reply by dmcker, Feb 27, 2010.

Forgot to also ask what your sourcing options are. Just local shops, or are you also able to order online? And do you want to learn yourself a bit about the range of grappas out there, or are you pretty much just interested in finding appropriate food and drink for this group meeting?

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Reply by rhill2990, Feb 28, 2010.

My taste in wine runs toward the fruity and mild tannins. My favorite Brandy is Metaxa, the greek brandy. I find this brandy a little more on the aromatic side than most I have tried. For this particular meeting, I am hogtied into local shops. To make things worse, my favorite wine outlet here went out of business recently. I would like to learn more about grappa's with a look toward exploring the territory more thoroughly. I have not had that many Italian reds or whites. I would say that my favorite Italian red is presently Sangiovese.

Thanks again, dm.

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Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Feb 28, 2010.

Personally, the only thing I find to go well with grappa is my gag reflex. That stuff is nasty!

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Reply by oslowinelover, Feb 28, 2010.

I know some people react to the grape seed flavour. I have to admit to liking it :) But then again i also like aniseed drinks like raki, arak and spicy snaps like aquavit, of course.

Have you tried grappa in a caffé corretto?

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Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Feb 28, 2010.

I also like anise drinks, as well as scotch, gin and other "tough to like" things like Fernet Branca. But I thing grappa is toxic. I tried adding it to espresso once and wound up with ruined espresso. Never again.

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Reply by Poldark Maximus, Feb 28, 2010.

Next time at bat and the opportunity arises substitute a Marc du Bourgogne for the grappa. That is, of course, you can find a bottle of it in the first place. One of the more difficult distillates to chase down here in the states. There is a marvelous taste-of- the skin that is often missing in a red-grape grappa. A worthy comparison awaits you. That's what we live for, isn't it?

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Reply by oslowinelover, Feb 28, 2010.

Is it the french relative of grappa? But it is always aged?

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Reply by Poldark Maximus, Mar 1, 2010.

Ah, to the heart of the matter. Marc is distilled --- as is grappa --- from the pips and skins at the bottom of the press. But then unlike its cousin, Marc du Bourgogne is aged in oak.. Duration unknown -- perhaps someone else following this stream can help out . The wonderful brown colour of Marc betrays its mode of aging.

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Reply by Peppino, Mar 1, 2010.

grappa also can be barrel aged thus acquiring some color and additional aromas.. I generally don't think of grappa and food together but as others have suggested as a digestivo after a meal.. I'm sure there are some "classic" pairings of some sort from the Veneto or Fruili.. I love it in espresso..best way to start the day!

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Reply by oslowinelover, Mar 1, 2010.

Hmmm maybe i should start my day with espresso and grappa too .. It might enhance creativity at work :)

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Reply by amour, Mar 1, 2010.

How about SAMBUCA?
Be sure to take a lovely dark chocolate cheesecake !

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Reply by amour, Mar 1, 2010.

Just checked prices....Banfi Grappa (PREMIUM GRAPPA) $50.

Romana Sambuca (From Crown Wine & Spirits) $20.

These are prices on-line.

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Reply by Peppino, Mar 1, 2010.

J. Poli Sarpa and Nardini are decent, moderately priced and widely available.. my dad was in the Italian military stationed somewhere in northern Italy and he told me that they would indeed have grappa in their espresso in the AM on those cold winter mornings.. haha.. splains alot

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Reply by amour, Mar 1, 2010.

Thanks...My friend Davide, in London, always brought me the
very best from his trips home to Piedmont/Italy.

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Reply by oslowinelover, Mar 4, 2010.

Oh nooo ... this thread makes me want to travel in Italy :) Last time i went to Italy i went to Milano, completely avoiding the fashion shops, focusing intently on food and drink. We stayed at a hotel with an amazing restaurant next door. I had the ravioli with pumpkin and honey starter several times. Of course with an after dinner grappa from the extensive list. Sigh.

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Reply by amour, Mar 4, 2010.

As  if  we  did  not  hear  enough....

add  grappa  to  cupcakes, whipping  cream

and  of  course....ice cream  as  well.

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Reply by madmanny, Mar 4, 2010.

Grappa story 1 - Went to a beautiful grappa distillery called Berta in the Mombaruzzo area (Piemonte) where they produce over 1MM bottle a year.  They get their "raw materials" from many of the surrounding vineyards, including some of the barolos and barbarescos.  The show stopper is their 20 year old barrel aged grappa which I'd put up against virtually any fine brandy or cognac of equal cost (about $80 for a 1/5th).  Not at all like the diesel fuel that some taste like.  If you're in the area, this is worth a side trip.

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