Grappa lovers get an education at Hello Grappa! Days
From June 14 to 16, 2023 in New York City, Balzac administered and managed a series of educational marketing events for the traditional Italian spirit Grappa at Hello Grappa! Days 2023.
Grappa is experiencing a resurgence of interest due to its sustainability (it’s made from grape pomace, which is a leftover of the winemaking process) and versatility as a sipping or cocktail spirit. As more people look for artisan products and get interested in creative cocktails, they’re finding that this spirit fits a variety of their needs. Hello Grappa! Days were an opportunity for them to learn more about this popular spirit and how to best consume it.
A highlight of the series of gatherings was the Grappa Cocktail Contest, designed to showcase that the spirit is great in cocktails. Eleven talented bartenders competed to create impressive cocktails. Nicolas Brimau, a highly regarded mixologist in New York City, won with the AMORE, a shaken cocktail with notes of passion fruit, aquafaba and chamomile.
In addition to the cocktail contest, approximately 150 spirit and wine professionals attended masterclasses and educational workshops. The sessions covered a wide range of topics including Grappa’s rich history, production process, aging regimen and its status as a sustainable product with diverse applications. Attendees had the opportunity to sample a variety of samples and meet producers and representatives from eleven brands from various parts of Italy.
“We made a significant impact during Hello Grappa! Days,” said Michael Wangbickler, president of Balzac Communications & Marketing, the organizers of the activities. “Grappa is unfamiliar to many in the U.S., both trade and consumers. We took advantage of this opportunity to help educate and elevate this craft spirit. Having had several conversations with attendees at the events, there was unprecedented interest, with many walking away as new fans.
“The event with the Cocktail Contest was particularly effective,” Wangbickler added. “It showed everyone that it is a versatile spirit, great in cocktails or drunk straight. Attendees were very engaged, having a chance to try all the bartenders’ creations. I’m grateful to everyone who participated in the week’s activities and the warm reception we received everywhere we went. I’m looking forward to seeing import numbers going up and having greater access to this special spirit.”
Some fun facts
Grappa is a spirit distilled from pomace (grape skins and seeds) after wine fermentation. First, distillers select the pomace of only the finest Italian wines for the distillation process. Though any grape can be used, the skins and seeds used to produce Moscato, Barolo and Brunello are among the most common products selected.
The pomace is carefully heated to produce steam, which captures both the alcohol and aromatic compounds that remain in the grapes. The steam wafts into a separate chamber and is condensed back into a liquid.
Lowering the alcohol content of the distillate is critical. It is diluted with pure water until the desired alcohol content is reached. It is then filtered at low temperature to remove any impurities. Grappa can be unaged or aged, depending on the producer’s end goal.
It’s common to serve the spirit on its own in a chalice, tulip or balloon glass. Serve unaged examples slightly chilled (47˚F if possible) and aged versions at cool room temperature (around 60˚F). Fill the glass only one-quarter full and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the aromas time to develop.
Grappa also tastes great in a variety of cocktails. Substitute it as the spirit of choice in many classic cocktails or experiment to find an enjoyable and original combination. The VE.N.TO cocktail, the first mixed drink developed specifically to showcase this spirit, is another option.
Hello Grappa! is a three-year informational and promotional campaign designed to increase Americans’ understanding of Grappa GI. The project was sponsored by AssoDistil and cofunded by the European Union according to Reg. 1144/2014. Get more details about the campaign and about Grappa at www.hellograppa.com or on Facebook and Instagram.
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