The Angst of Innocence

Here’s one thing I know after being in the wine business for 30 years: if it seems like a good idea to hang out till midnight and drink grappa, I probably should have gone home two hours ago. Ah, grappa. It looks innocent enough. But nothing could be further from the truth. Grappa is the clear brandy that results when the pulpy mash of stems, seeds, and skins left over from winemaking is refermented and then distilled. In most parts of the world, this mass of leftover stuff is usually thrown away or spread on the ground as fertilizer. But in Italy, nothing gastronomical is wasted…even if it sometimes tastes like a grenade has just exploded in your throat. Historically, grappa was a specialty of the cold, northern part of the country, where people put a small shot of it into their morning coffee. In fact, because of their feverish allegiance, grappa fans are fondly called tifosi di grappa – which more of less translates as typhoid victims of grappa.

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