Grappa, Marc

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

These are the Italian and French names for spirits distilled from pomace, the residue of grape skins and pulp, seeds and stems left behind when wine grapes are pressed. These drinks were born from frugality, as a way of getting the most out of the grapes. The solid remains still have juice, sugar, and flavor in them, so with some water and another period of fermentation, they generate alcohol and flavors that can then be concentrated by distillation, leaving behind the harsh astringency and bitterness. Pomace distillates were very much a by-product, usually distilled just once and often without diverting the heads and tails, and were bottled as is: so they were strong and harsh, something to warm and stimulate the vineyard workers, but not something to savor. In the last few decades, producers have been distilling more selectively and sometimes aging the results to make a fine drink.