Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Let's Hear It For Grappa!

Finally, a bar dedicated to Grappa! Solo or in inventive cocktails, grappa is a thing of beauty, which of course makes me very happy and eager to visit the new Bar 888 located inside the Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco. Grappa has a bit of a bad reputation, but it's a remarkable digestif.

So what exactly is Grappa? It's a fragrant grape-based pomace brandy of between 38% and 80% alcohol by volume (75 to 160 proof), and of Italian origin. Literally "grape stalk", most grappa is made by distilling pomace, (grape residue, mainly the skins, but also stems and seeds) left over from winemaking after pressing. It was originally made to prevent waste by using leftovers at the end of the wine season. It quickly became commercialized, mass-produced, and sold worldwide. Some grappa, known as prima uva, is made with the whole grapes. The flavor of grappa, like that of wine, depends on the type and quality of the grape used as well as the specifics of the distillation process. Grappa was originally made in the northern Italian town of Bassano del Grappa, and some contend that this is the origin of the name.