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A Tale of Grappa..

Posted in aperitifs, Caro Diario.(dear diary..), cucina, cucina povere, entertaining, Facts, Features, history of foods, La Dolce Vita, slow food, Travel & customs, Upcoming Appearances, and wine


Copyright 2009, Maria Liberati

Editor: Kate Hollinger


Grappa, a native Italian drink not for the faint of heart, is not as popular as the wines of Italy but just as intriguing! Although there are many tales and theories regarding the origin of grappa, it was first made in the Northern town of Bassano del Grappa as early as the Middle Ages. For centuries, grappa has been a remedy for farmers and working class to endure the cold. It remained solely for the poor families until the 1960s, when it reached the general public. Many drank a shot of it with their morning coffee before heading out for a long day’s work and it is rumored that sometimes children were given a shot before trekking through the cold winter weather to get to school.


While grappa’s name is most likely due to its town of origin, Bassano del Grappa, the word “graspa” in Latin translates literally to “grape-stalk” as well. Grappa is made by distilling pomace brandy with grape residue left over from winemaking. The main components used from the grape are most commonly the skins but sometimes the stems and seeds as well. Originally this was done to prevent waste so that all of the grape was used, but now it is continued due to popular demand. Some grappa is not a result of the wine leftovers, as “prima uva” grappa is made from whole grapes. This is for the true grappa fans!


Grappa is a fragrant drink with flavors that vary depending on the type of grape used and the distillation process. The alcohol content is usually somewhere from 35 to 60 percent, so it is definitely a strong one! Most grappa is clear in color but some take on tints from the grape and the older the grappa, the more likely they are to hold tones of yellow or brown from the barrels they are stored in. While grappa can be aged, they do lose some fragrance over time and are best stored in a cool, dark atmosphere.


Nowadays you don’t see too many people drinking grappa as their main drink. Often it is served as a “digestivo”, or after dinner drink. It is said that grappa helps the digestion process after large meals, and some will even add espresso to it and serve with dessert. If drinking it plain, it is best to serve the younger grappas in a chilled tall thick glass, and the older ones at room temperature in a brandy snifter. While distilling grappa is a somewhat expensive process, you can find bottles all over nowadays for as little as $10 a bottle.


And while it is an old wives tale that grappa has been used to remedy toothaches, rheumatism, and even bronchitis, this “firewater” is best drank solely for the love of grappa!

Thanks for all who came out to meet me at the my book signing/cooking demo at the  Bethesda Row event at Bella Italia in Bethesda, Maryland this weekend. Enjoyed meeting you all and sharing stories and recipes with you.

Here is a list of more upcoming appearances..Hope to see you there:



Tuesday, June 2nd 7 PM- Book Signing & Cooking on a Budget with The Basic Art of Italian Cooking with Celebrity Chef Maria Liberati. Recipes from her best selling book and The Basic Art of Italian Cooking School in Italy. Samples provided. Kenilworth Library, 548 Kenilworth Blvd., Kenilworth, NJ 908-276-2451

June 4th- Foster’s Gourmet Store ,Philadelphia, Pa, 399 Market St, phila, Pa 19195 215-925-0950.Call Temple Univ to register call Temple Univ continuing ed at 215-204-6946. Includes 4 course sample of authentic Italian picnic $55

June 6th- Horsham Day-Book signing and The Basic Art of Italian Cooking School demo with Celebrity Chef Maria Liberati. Deep Meadow Park 1-3 PM

June 7th-Book signing and on stage appearance-Chicago Tribune Literary Festival- Printer’s Row Chicago. Celebrity Chef-Maria Liberati will be bringing The Basic Art of Italian Cooking School to Chicago along with a book signing. The Basic Art of Italian Cooking was one of the books specially selected to be a part of this annual event. For more info

June 15th- Book signing and Cooking on A Budget with The Basic Art of Italian Cooking. Demo of how to cook on a budget with recipes from the best selling book,samples and recipes provided. Willingboro Library- 220 Willingboro Parkway, Willingboro, NJ

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