Grappa is generally enjoyed cold, but the temperature for serving differs according to the variety.
Young Grappa is served at a temperature between 9°C and 13°C, while, with rare exceptions, aged Grappa is tasted at 17°C.
When in doubt, it is always advisable to err on the side of caution. You can always heat up a glass of Grappa with the palm of your hand if its served a little too cold, but not the other way round.
The right glass for tasting
The best glass for tasting Grappa is definitely a medium-sized tulip glass (100-150 mm), pot-bellied and not too narrow at the mouth, so that the volatility of the alcohol enhances the aromas of the spirit rather than overpowering them. The tasting glass must be made of crystal or glass and the upper part should never be too narrow to avoid dispersing the Grappa’s scents too quickly.
On the other hand, for very aged Grappa, a cognac glass – or snifter – is preferable. The greater width of this type of glass makes it suitable for appreciating all the organoleptic characteristics of an aged Grappa.
Some guidelines for perfect tasting
Grappa tasting is a fascinating sensory experience, but it requires concentration and attention. Tasting is designed to assess the quality of the product, capture all its particularities and, last but not least, to enjoy a moment of pleasure, either alone or in company.
For the perfect tasting, it is advisable to select a neutral, silent and odorless environment in which to taste the spirit without interference from strong scents and odors. It is also advisable for the taster to avoid drinking coffee, smoking and ingesting anything that would alter the taste of the Grappa before starting the actual tasting.
When you wish to taste several varieties of Grappa, it is advisable to do so starting with young grappas before moving on to aromatic grappas and ending with those aged in wood, observing a crescendo in intensity and persistence of flavor.
Three aspects should be considered when tasting Grappa: visual, olfactory and taste.
Visual inspection allows assessment of the transparency or opacity of the Grappa. A transparent Grappa is bright and clear; if it has some particles in suspension, it is cloudy. Brightness is synonymous with the quality of the Grappa, except in the case of grappas flavored with plant-based infusions. For all other varieties, any form of opacity that deviates from the crystal-clear liquid indicates a defective spirit.
In addition to its brightness, the color of the Grappa can also be assessed to identify whether it is a young Grappa, and therefore perfectly clear and transparent, or aged in wood, in which case its shades vary from soft yellow to amber.
To appreciate all the aromas of a Grappa, we recommend sniffing it moderately, keeping the glass at a slight distance from the nose. Unlike wine tasting, it is not necessary to rotate the spirit vigorously around the entire glass, because the high alcohol content of Grappa conveys the aromas upward and outward without the need for too much agitation.
In a young Grappa, it is possible to perceive fruity and floral hints. Spicy notes of vanilla, cinnamon, liquorice, cocoa or tobacco, instead, can characterize a barrel-aged Grappa.
Tasting ends with the taste inspection. Grappa should be sipped in small amounts, letting it slide over the tongue, and not rolling it around the mouth, to prevent numbing of the taste buds due to the alcohol content.
The correct method for tasting is to allow the spirit to come into contact with the palate for a few seconds, to develop an extremely enveloping, but not irritating, sensation of warmth followed by release of the specific flavors of the Grappa being tasted.
An excellent quality Grappa which has been well distilled is marked by a clean, sharp and balanced taste.