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Homemade (Infused) Grappa


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#1 goldie

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 06:44 PM

A restaurant in our town made a terrific homemade, spice infused grappa. It is divine on a fall night. Unfortunately the person who made it left. I also met a woman whose family makes grappa as gifts but was unable to secure the recipe. The only thing she'd reveal is that she uses Everclear. How does one "make grappa?" I thought grappa was a wine byproduct. How do you infuse it? Any recipes?

#2 BTR

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 07:11 PM

Isn't grappa properly the result of a distillation, and therefore illegal to make oneself?

#3 rlibkind

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 07:46 PM

Isn't grappa properly the result of a distillation, and therefore illegal to make oneself?

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It's not illegal per se, but the onerous requirements mean, for all practical purposes, that you cannot produce spirits for personal consumption. Here's what the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau of the US Treasury says:

There are numerous requirements that must be met that make it impractical to produce spirits for personal or beverage use.  Some of these requirements are paying special tax, filing an extensive application, filing a bond, providing adequate equipment to measure spirits, providing suitable tanks and pipelines, providing a separate building (other than a dwelling) and maintaining detailed records, and filing reports.


I suspect whoever "made" the grappa actually added flavor to commercially-obtained spirits.
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#4 goldie

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 08:45 PM

Ok, that makes sense. And in the case of the everclear concoction then it was a misnomer.

So, how would one infuse grappa? Do you think purchasing grappa and infusing it (like limoncello) would work? If so, how would you fool around to obtain a spicy, vanilla flavor?

#5 eje

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 10:11 PM

At least here, grappa is always a little expensive for me to consider using for liqueurs or infusing.

Anything over $20 US per 750ml is too much for as an ingredient without some consideration.

Certainly, you could buy a bottle of one of the more reasonable grappas (Julia or Piave) and infuse it with some vanilla husks and some spices. Probably, though, the same thing made with a very reasonable domestic brandy would be nicer.
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#6 jackal10

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Posted 05 November 2005 - 02:06 AM

Grappa is made as a second fermentation using the left over pomace after the wine has been pressed. The press cake is mixed with waer (and maybe some sugar) and fermented to make a "false wine" that is then distilled.
I guess at home you could try freezing it like apple-jack, (I'm experimenting) but it will be even rougher than the traditional artisan product.The levels of pectin and hence methyl alcohol are a concern.

#7 lapasterie

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Posted 05 November 2005 - 09:44 AM

You can try infusing a commercial grappa with fruit such as pineapple, raspberries, cherries or peaches. One bar in our neighborhood infuses unflavored vodka with fruits as above and you may want to try this method with vanilla beans, split, and spices.

#8 M.X.Hassett

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Posted 05 November 2005 - 11:38 AM

Or you can infuse it with fiji apple. A friend of mine has been doing this with vodka for a while. I can only imagine how much better it would be with grappa.
Matthew Xavier Hassett aka "M.X.Hassett"

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#9 goldie

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 11:36 AM

Thanks everyone. In the case of fruit infusions- how do I prevent them from spoiling? I've never even made fruit vinegars before. I'm thinking of trying apple, cinnamon sticks, and a vanilla bean.

#10 slkinsey

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 01:02 PM

Grappa is typically fairly high in alcohol, so you shouldn't have any spoilage problems. Just make sure you take the stuff out of the grappa after achieving the flavor you want (and obviously you can't put in so much watery flavoring ingredients like apples that the alcoholic strength is diluted).

Most infused grappa I've had has been a relatively straightforward herbal infusion, which is the traditional way: rue, licorice root, that sort of thing. If you're going to do something like an apple, vanilla and cinnamon infusion, I think you're wasting your money on grappa (which isn't cheap in the US). Better to do it in a bottle of vodka or overproof rum. Nardini is one of the less expensive brands, for example, and you're still talking 40 bucks a liter.
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#11 M.X.Hassett

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 01:06 PM

The apple infused vodkA my friend makes is normally 3 chopped fuji apples to 2 liters(left for 3-4 months). I have not been able to discern any heavy dilution.
Matthew Xavier Hassett aka "M.X.Hassett"

"Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters-it is vulgarly called bittered sling and is supposed to be an exellent electioneering potion..."
- Balance and Columbian Repository. May 13, 1806

#12 slkinsey

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 01:43 PM

Right. I was thinking more like 6 chopped apples to 1 liter of spirits.
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#13 M.X.Hassett

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Posted 07 November 2005 - 01:58 PM

Yeh, that would be closer to the ratio I would use Yet my friend also thinks that vodkais the finest of spirits. So live and let live I guess. I will have to do some research. I'll report back in a few months :raz:
Matthew Xavier Hassett aka "M.X.Hassett"

"Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters-it is vulgarly called bittered sling and is supposed to be an exellent electioneering potion..."
- Balance and Columbian Repository. May 13, 1806