Italian grappa is a potent spirit. The first time you try it, you may not be overly impressed. Before you vow never to try grappa ever again, bear in mind that there may be a couple of reasons for why the grappa did not grab you. What grappa first timers need to try, is a “soft” Italian grappa. A what?! I’ll explain.
If you are in a half decent Italian restaurant in Italy and you speak Italian, mien host, or the serving person, upon receiving a request for grappa, may ask whether you would prefer a grappa secca or a grappa morbida. Grappa secca is “dry” grappa and it can be a little bit rougher than perhaps your taste buds might appreciate, especially if you are an Italian grappa virgin.
Until your Italian grappa know-how is up to speed, I heartily recommend ordering a grappa morbida.
“Morbida”, in Italian, means “soft”, not as you might be forgiven for thinking, “morbid”! Perhaps a better translation of “morbida” would be “mellow”. A grappa morbida is generally, and if you get a good one, more aromatic, smoother, and is less likely to burn on its way down.
It’s not too difficult to say “morbida“. If you can say “morbid”, just say the same, except you must roll that “r” and, of course, add an “a”. The all important “a” should be pronounced as the “a” in “apple. Not too difficult.
Now, if you do come to Italy and order a morbida Italian grappa after dining in a restaurant, and you like what you drink, see if you can establish the maker of the good grappa. Admittedly, this may not be too easy. However, should you wish to take a bottle of Italian grappa home with you, in the event that you develop a taste for it, find a specialist wine shop, or, if you are in Milan, visit Eataly and ask for a grappa morbida.
If you happen to be in the company of Italians when you order a grappa morbida, they will probably be highly surprised and quietly impressed by your level of grappa knowledge.
After discovering how pleasant a good a grappa morbida can be, you may well end up trying to hunt for some where you live. If so, your best bet is doing this online, for grappa is not yet that easy to come by outside of Italy. Hopefully, seeing as Italians are finally understanding that there’s quite a bit of money to be made in exports, that will change.
I shall now consume the glass of grappa morbida which acted as a “model” in the photograph. Cheers!
Grappa photograph by Alex Roe.