Grappa, from the Latin word 'grappapolis', meaning a bunch of grapes, is produced throughout Italy and is a spirit derived from the distillation of pomace.
These are the left-over remains of grapes where the juice has already been used for the production of wine. The pomace comprises of the skins, seeds, stems and grape-pulp which still has enough sugar left to be able to ferment.
The production of Grappa helped a winemaker add a further income stream to their business and, by comparison to other spirits, was cheaper versus other available spirits, however that has changed over the years, where today we see many quality grappa producers specialising in their field, having honed their production methods, and greatly improved the quality of the pomace by removing the stems and stalks after initial fermentation.
The Nardini family have the oldest distillery in Italy and makes some of the finest examples available today. The still in use was the first to use steam distillation as opposed to a direct flame, which greatly enhanced the ability to control the temperature and quality, before they introduced the method of double-distillation for greater purity and therefore quality.
Grappa may be labelled as di Vitigno, denoting the spirit is made from the pomace (grape skins and stems) from different grapes whereas those labelled as Monovitigno is that made from a single grape variety.
Grappa may be both un-aged and aged, and must be produced in any on of the eight recognised geographical regions and bottled at a minimum of 37.5% alcohol by volume. Styles of grappa are primarily based on their age and whether or not they are made from an aromatic grape type such as moscato, described as 'aromotica' on the bottle's label.
In France, they use pomace from their grapes to produce Marc (pomace brandy), in the same way as the Italians produce grappa.