Trust Your Nose (And Your Palate)!

De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum

Today I want to talk about two things. 
• First, always trust your nose when choosing a Grappa. Even if you make a mistake, you (and your nose) will learn and soon be able to pair Grappa, so go boldly forth!
• They really do make authentic (and tasty) Grappa in Switzerland.

I had a very nice dinner recently at a Swiss restaurant. Stable DC is the *only* Swiss restaurant in Washington DC, so it was a real treat. Near the end of the meal, the dessert menus were brought out. As we perused desserts (Apple Tarte Tatin looked interesting), I asked if they had any Grappa (a reflex). They said yes, and brought the open bottle of Grappa Ticinese Vallemaggia out. After detecting the scent of candied citrus, I suggested to Mrs. Grappa Guy that we share a different dessert, prepared with kumquats, Felchlin Chocolate Mousse. The pairing was wonderful, the Grappa picking up the citrus notes of the kumquats and playing its own harmonious notes against the exquisite chocolate in the dessert. My nose had served me well!

When I asked about the Grappa, the bottle revealed it was Swiss. No, I told our server, Grappa is strictly Italian, legally since 1989 courtesy of EU Council Regulation 1576/89. Discussion ensued, to include Restaurant manager Silvan Kramer (born in Switzerland), who insisted that the Ticino, Switzerland Canton can also legally make Grappa, because it is essentially Italian. It is the only Canton entirely south of the Alps, everyone speaks Italian and the culture is essentially Italian. He was right!

I went home and did my research, not because I didn’t believe Silvan, but because I *did*. I just wanted to back that up with facts. Here is what I found. First, in 1989, the aforementioned Council Regulation asserted that Grappa was Italian. Then, in 1995, the WTO TRIPS Agreement reinforced that Grappa is Italian. Subsequently, in 1999, there was an agreement that Grappa could be made “…in the Italian-speaking areas of Switzerland…”. Well, Ticino is certainly an Italian-speaking area, so there you have it, Grappa can be Swiss.

P.S. – I will write shortly about the Grappa (Grappa Vallemaggia by Vini & Distillati Angelo Delea SA) we drank; it was most enjoyable, has an interesting story all its own.

P.P.S. – In case you were wondering about the Latin subtitle to this article (De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum) It roughly translates as: “In matters of taste, there is no dispute”. What this means is, you like what you like, nobody can dispute that. In practice, this means trusting your palate, and nose. If you like what you smell/taste, then great! Don’t let anybody (including The Grappa Guy) tell you what to like.


Trackbacks & Pings

  • Grappa Tour 2019 Overview - The Grappa Guy :

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    4 years ago

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