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The existence of Grappa is all thanks to Italian winemakers. They are keen to make their fruit go further by distilling the spirit from pomace, the assortment grape skins, stalks, seeds and pulp that remain in the press.
After fermentation, most top producers remove the stalks and stems from the pomace. The pomace continues to distil into either continuous stills (for the more mass-market grappas) or pot stills for the more boutique products.
The spirit is then age in wood or rest in glass before bottling. Most grappas are clear, but oak-aged grappas can take on a fantastic dark golden hue. And thus resembling an XO Cognac or a malt whisky.
The quality of grappa being exported from Italy has never been better; for anyone trying a high-end grappa for the first time and expecting a harsh, raw spirit, the results can be a revelation. Grappa converts are more numerous than many cynical observers might imagine.