The perfect marriage: Grappa and Amaretto


I do not drink many liquors as I do not like very much their taste, however, living in Northern Italy, there is one that I like, which not only is unique and very different, but also is very good to help digest after a heavy meal: Grappa.

Grappa is made by distilling the skins of the raising after they have been pressed to get the juice of out them. As we do not waste anything, especially when food is concerned, out ancestors managed to find a way to re-use the dry skins of the raising to made another drink. It obviously is much more alcoholic than wine, up to 40% andhowever its well balanced alcoholic content is what makes it good for digestion. Therefore Grappa is not for shots, neither for large quantities and that is why a bottle can last for a long time if you drink it correctly and responsibly.

Grappas and Amaretti- Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

Grappa is a luxury drink and also pretty pricy: first of all is made under the control of the governemt that inspects every plant and authorises a specific quantity every year and second of all because the taste of grappa changes completely depending on the raisins used: Nebbiolo, Barbera, Moscato, Ruchè, Grignolino and so on.. covering a wide range of flavours based on the nature of the raw material.

Moreover, grappa can be transparent, meaning it didn’t undergo any ageing process or it can cover a wide range of colours spaning from a light yellow to a deep brown, depending on the timing and the case used to age it. In most of the cases, grappa is aged exactly as a wine: inside a barrique or a bigger cask, depending on the final result the producer points to.

My favourite? A well aged Barbera based Grappa.

A Distillation plant to make Grappa. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

If you want to taste it even if you didn’t have a very big meal I have a suggestion for you: try to pair it with a traditional “Amaretto” biscuit!!! To be very honest, Amaretto is not a biscuit but I believe there is no word in English that can translate the concept of it: Amaretto is simply “Amaretto”.

It’s an almond based preparation, which also includes some egg whites and grinded apricot bone that gives a light bitter taste to the biscuit (amaro in Italian mean “bitter”). Amaretto is probably the most beloved italian biscuit. I know nobody who didn’t like it, either italian of foreigner.

Amaretto di Monbaruzzo. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

As both Grappa and Amaretto originated in the Monferrato area (although Grappa is nowadays made all over Northern Italy), if you want to enjoy the best grappa ever as well as the most traditional Amaretto biscuit, you have no choice but to go visit this extraordinary area and pick any grappa making cellar (there are several). My favourite is Distillerie Berta, offering a very wide set of grappas, spanning from the simplest ones to those aged in barriques previously used to age Scotch Whiskeys.

Grappa and Amaretto are the perfect marriage to me. They go well together just as ebony and ivory on the keys of a piano.

Plan you visit to Monferrato, check for the perfect marriage and let me know if I was wrong.

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