Grappa was originally a poor man’s drink and was a way to make sure that every drop of fermentable sugar left in the precious grapes after wine making was used. For centuries it helped cope with the toil and discomfort of subsistence.

In fact I remember my childhood holidays in Italy at my Nonna’s having a slight whiff of the distillery in the air from local grape growers who made their own wine and a little grappa with the residue.

Nowadays it has been refined and elevated to an Italian speciality.

Love it or loath it. If you are visiting Italy it is good to know about it as you may well be asked if you would like one at the end of a meal to aid digestion. It can be taken neat or in an espresso, known as a caffe corretto alla grappa.

It’s origins lie in the foothills of the Italian Alps and the Northern regions of Trentino-Alto Adige and the Val d’Aosta (All places dear to my heart as my Nonna Maria came from Trentino when it was under Austro-Hungarian rule) and where excellent wines are still made.

Grappa is made from the residue of skins, pips and stalk (pomace or vinace) left after the grapes have been pressed to make the wine. The word grappa comes from the Latin “grappapolis” meaning a bunch of rapes.

One of Italy’s leading and oldest brands is Nardini from Bassano del Grappa

who were established in 1779, another famous brand is Nonino who made the first premium brand single variety grappa using a Picolit grape. Grappa is now available as “grappa di vitigno” from a variety of grapes or as “grappa monovitigno” from a single variety of grape.