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Grappa is a uniquely Italian drink. Traditionally, made from pomace, the discarded grape seeds, stalks, and stems that are a by-product of the winemaking process, Grappa has been around since the Middle Ages.

For generations, Italians have sipped this "firewater" after meals and even added a little to their morning espresso, to "correct" it. Once considered an acquired taste, popular only in Italy, Grappa, today, is making itself known around the world. Distilleries from Australia to Oregon, as well as Italy, are trying their hand at making Grappa, with surprisingly good results.

Grappa was originally made in Bassano del Grappa, a town of around 40,000 residents in Italy's northern Veneto region. It is from this town that Grappa gets its name. Grappa started as a by-product of the Italian winemaking trade, a rough drink made with what was available, potent enough to get the farmers through the cold winter months. It was good at warming you up, but not particularly tasty, similar to the grain alcohols of the Midwestern United States. Grappa, largely, remained a drink of the poor workmen and farmers until the 1960s.

Drinking Grappa

Traditionally, Grappa is served chilled in small glasses and served after the meal, as the Italians believe that it aids digestion. Correctly, Grappa should be swirled gently in the glass and then brought to your nose, before tasting. It is then tasted in small sips. In Italy, Grappa is also added to espresso to make a "Café Corretto," a popular after-dinner concoction. In the United States, you'll find Grappa at higher-end Italian restaurants and retailers. If you've never tried Grappa, you're in for a treat. It's a fiery, but tasty beverage, just the thing for a cold winter's night.

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