What is grappa?

Just now I was asking myself what exactly grappa is, and why grappa glasses are shaped the way they are.  I turned to the internet’s best friend – Wikipedia – for some quick answers.

First, grappa is generally made in Italy and is produced from the left-overs from the wine-making process.  This means that grape skins and seeds and the like (called “pomace”) are used in the fermentation process for a new drink after the vintners have done their work on their wine.  While the article did not mention this, I suspect that grappa originated as a true “working man’s drink”: only those people who scrapped and saved for a living would have been daring enough to use pomace after the juicy life had already been removed from it.

Second, grappa glasses, such as the Luigi Bormioli Vinoteque glass pictured above, take a general shape: a long, footed stem; a bulbous body; an outward tapering of the glass between the body and the rim; and a size holding about 2-4 oz.  Here are a few examples of grappa glasses on different sides of the spectrum – conspicuous body and subtle body (Bormioli Rocco Riserva and Schott Zwiesel Tritan glasses pictured):

What accounts for this shape – function, or is it purely stylistic?  Wikipedia does not say, but it does indicate that the alcohol content of grappa may approach 60%, so this explains the volume capacity.  It also states that grappa is generally clear, with a few types slightly colored from the pomace.  The shape of the glass may focus (or magnify?) any coloration that may occur, which in turn could highlight the visual nuances (this is conjecture on my part).

In the end, I would guess that grappa glasses take their form in part from wine glasses.  Grappa and wine are cousins, after all, and the utensils that came to serve one could very well have come to serve the other, albeit in modified form.  If anyone has any other thoughts or knowledge on the matter, please make a post in the comments below.

Consulted source: Wikipedia

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