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Grappa

Grappa is the classic Italian grape spirit, produced primarily in northern Italy from such regions as Veneto, Tuscany and Piedmont. The vineyards of Tuscany produce it in both quality and quantity.

Tuscan grappas (the Italian plural is grappe) are made not only as a by-product of the region's vast Chianti production, but also from grapes grown on such hallowed turf as Montalcino. Grappas distilled there are typically named Grappa di Brunello to reflect this prestige, and are made from Sangiovese grape residue left over from Brunellowine production. Held in similarly high regard is Piedmont's Grappa di Barolo, distilled from Nebbiolo wines from the famous village of Barolo.

Several sub-categories of grappa have been identified to help distinguish between the various styles available. These are: giovane (pure and unaged), invecchiata (aged for 12 months or more), riserva invecchiata or stravecchia (aged for 18 months or more), aromatica (made from aromatic grapes) and aromatizzata (aromatized). Perfumed grappa aromatizzata is distilled with fruits, herbs or roots and has a quite different organoleptic profile from the standard spirits. Quinine, the bark of the Chinchona tree, is sometimes used as the aromatic agent, particularly in Barolo. It is known as china (pronounced kee-nah) in Italian, and beverages are identified by the adjective chinato (keen-'ato), as in Barolo Chinato.

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