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Italian Home Distillation

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  • walter jacobson
    Grappa di Pappa (not Papa!) Before alcohol was used recreationally in Italy, it was used (and still used) as a medicine. A 14 century transcript suggests that
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 7, 2001
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      Grappa di Pappa (not Papa!)

      Before alcohol was used recreationally in Italy, it was used (and still used) as a medicine. A 14 century transcript suggests that 'acqua ardens' could be used for disinfecting wounds, as an infusion with rosemary and sage for worms, with white wine and honey to improve memory, as a rinse for toothache, in cold compresses.

      Home distillation is legal in Italy. Grappa (there are many regional names) is made from grape pomace or pressings( vinaccia) from wine making. An equal quantity of pressings and water is distilled in pot stills. Usually there is a double distillation. 100kg of pressings yields between 4 to 8 litres of grappa  (70%abv), depending on how well the must was pressed. Pressings from white grapes must undergo fermentation, as white wine is usually made from the juice only. Commercial distilleries use steam to drive the alcohol from the pressings. The less stalks and seeds in the pressings,  the better the flavor - less fusel oils. Though not usual, it is sometimes aged in casks made from various Italian woods. It is usually diluted to 45-50%abv. Spirit  from grape pressings is called aguardiente in Spain, in Germany Tresterschnapps, in France eau-de-vie-de-marc. Once grappa was a cheap, ill-made product, an Italian white lightning made mostly by travelling distillers( who are still seen in France). Now its a trendy drink, and in the U.S. costs $50 upwards. There are many infused grappas. The herb rue (ruta graveolens) is used - "Grappa alla ruta". If you want to try it don't overdo the rue as it was once used to induce abortions in ancient times!

      Sambucca recipe (Anisette in French), 750ml (30%abv)

      500ml grappa (50%abv)

      7 drops pure anise oil

      250ml simple syrup (1:1 sugar/water)

      1tsp glycerin

      Ciao, ciao,

      Wal

       



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