Grappa is the spirit drink obtained exclusively from the distillation of raspberry.
This brief definition sums up the uniqueness of Grappa as spirits distilled from a solid raw material and produced in a specific geographical area like the Italian one, with technology developed over the centuries. These features give it an absolute typicity.
Grappa is Italian for tradition, culture and law.
The definition of Grappa for Law:
Decree n. 5389 of August 1, 2011
Application of Article 17 of Regulation (EC) 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2008 concerning the definition, designation, presentation, labeling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks – “Grappa” technical data sheet
Minister of Agricultural Food and Forestry Policies
TECHNICAL DATA SHEET GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION “GRAPPA”
Name of the spirited drink with geographical indication: Grappa
Spiritual Beverage Category with Geographical Indication: Acquavite di vinaccia
The name “Grappa” is exclusively used only to sell acquavit of pomace produced from raw materials derived from grapes grown and vinified in Italy, distilled and bottled in plants located throughout the country.
The list below explains the terms of the definition of Grappa.
What is a spirit drink?
The technical-legal definition of spirit drink (contained in EC Regulation 110/2008 currently in force) is rather complex and specialized. Simplifying it can be said that they are part of the so-called spirit drinks:
“Alcoholic beverages (any beverage containing ethyl alcohol) intended for human consumption. By definition, they have particular organoleptic characteristics and a minimum alcoholic strength of 15% vol. Spirit drinks are produced either directly by distillation, maceration or addition of flavorings or by mixing a spirit drink with another drink, with ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin or with certain distillates.”
In addition to spirits, they include liqueurs, bitter and other alcoholic beverages where ethanol is the major component. Wine and beer are not spirits, but just alcoholic beverages, as with an alcohol content of less than 15%.
What is the pomace (vinaccia)?
The term in its generic meaning indicates the solid part of the grape, ie the peel skins, the grapevines and the rasps.
Speaking of vinaccia in its technical meaning for the production of grappa means only the shell of the grape separated from the must or wine.
The pomace can be divided into 3 types:
- Fermented, obtained by drawing off of red wines, so ready to be distilled
- Semi-virgin, obtained in the vinification in rosé, then striking a rosé wine and with the marcas that have undergone partial fermentation.
- Virgins, obtained from “sgrondatura” in white vinification for white wines. In this case, the grapes did not undergo significant fermentation.
The semi-virgin or virgin pomace must be subsequently fermented before starting the distillation, since the grappa is obtained solely from fermented pomace.
What does it mean exclusively?
The term Grappa has been reserved exclusively for distillate or sparkling wine, since 1951, and it is therefore inappropriate to mention grappa of pears, plum brandy, etc.
From 29 May 1989, the EC Regulation 1576 reserved the name “Grappa” exclusively for the wine grape juice produced in ITALY. So the brandy spirits of other European countries can not be called Grappa, but assume other names in the country of origin.
Rules governing the production and marketing of Grappa.
- EC Regulation No. 110/2008 of 15 January 2008 on the definition, designation, presentation, labeling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks (repealing the above EC Regulation No 1576/89 of 29/05/1989) fixes all those parameters that allow the grape juice to be given the name Grappa;
- Decree of the President of the Republic No. 297 of 16/07/1997: Regulation on rules for the production and marketing of spirits, Grappa, Italian Brandy and Liqueurs. Among the basic things is the origin of raw materials from grapes produced in Italy and distillation in plants located within national borders
- Article 16 of Ministerial Decree No. 153 of 27/03/2001: decree providing provisions for manufacturers and holders of distillation apparatus
- Circular No. 163 of 20 November 1998 of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Crafts. The rules for implementing Regulation (EEC) No 1576/89 on spirits, and the decree of the President of the Republic no. 297/97.
On Gazzetta ufficiale della Repubblica Italiana of 30 September 2011 was published with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry the decree 5389 of August 1, containing the Grappa Technical Data Sheet, in implementation of Article 17 of Regulation (EC) No. 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2008, which entered into force on 20 May 2008, defining once and for all the fundamental concept: Grappa is an exclusively Italian distillate.
How to classify Grappa?
Grappa’s classification is very articulated. Labels can highlight the geographical designation of origin, the vines, the type of almond and other elements, which determines different product categories from time to time. Existing legislation, with EC Regulation 10/2008, governs the use of grappa names through the following geographical indications:
- Grappa of Barolo
- Grappa piemontese / of Piedmont
- Grappa lombarda / of Lombardia
- Grappa trentina / of Trentino
- Grappa friulana / of Friuli
- Grappa veneta / of Veneto
- Südtiroler Grappa / of South Tyrol
- Grappa siciliana / of Sicily
- Grappa of Marsala
In addition to this, depending on refining and/or following the distillation process and, above all, depending on the organoleptic characteristics, we can have the following types of Grappa:
- Young grappa
- Young aromatic grappa
- Fine grappa in wood
- Grappa refined in aromatic wood
- Grappa aged
- Grappa aged aromatic
- Grappa reserves
- Grappa aromatic reserve
- Flavored grappa
This classification of Grappa through 9 types has the purpose of organizing the complex quantity of products and facilitating the consequent search for the many products in the panorama of the Italian distilleries.
What is distillation?
Distillation is the operation that separates the various components of a mixture, in our case fermented wine, having different volatility by boiling and subsequent condensation of vapors in liquid. This is what is generally called the cut of heads and tails and the preservation of the heart.
Author of this operation is the distillery master which together with the alambic forms a fundamental binomio to determine the organoleptic profile of Grappa.
“Distillation is beautiful. First of all, because it’s a slow, philosophical and silent trade that takes care of you, but it gives you time to think of something else, just like riding a bicycle. Then, because it involves a metamorphosis: from liquid to vapor (invisible, and from this again to liquid, but in this double path, up and down, you reach the purity, ambiguous and fascinating condition that starts from and finally, when you are going to distill, you acquire the awareness of repeating a rite now consecrated by centuries, almost a religious act, in which from imperfect matter you get the essence, the usury, the spirit, and first alcohol, which rejoices the soul and warms the heart.”
(Primo Levi, The Periodic System) These lines of Primo Levi, according to us, enclose and summarize the deeper meaning of the symbolic, philosophical and historical value of distillation.
From the etymological point of view, the term “distillation” means “droplet separation”.
The word derives from the Latin “distillatio”, formed by the “de” particle (indicating downward movement) and “stillatio” (falling asleep, dripping).