Grappa recipe and Process

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Fraser
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Re: Grappa recipe and Process

Post by Fraser » Tue Jan 23, 2018 1:57 pm

Just as a follow up here, I thought I'd share what all of that grape pomace turned into.

I stripped it, then distilled it on a short bubble plate column. I then diluted it down to 62.5% abv and tossed in coriander and dried cherries along with oak dominoes. Let everything soak for about 10 days. Then I cold filtered it out of the tank to catch any suspended pectin from the cherries, then aerated it very very thoroughly. Bottled it strong at 48% abv. Mighty tasty IMO.
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muscashine
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Re: Grappa recipe and Process

Post by muscashine » Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:25 pm

Fraser wrote:Just as a follow up here, I thought I'd share what all of that grape pomace turned into.

I stripped it, then distilled it on a short bubble plate column. I then diluted it down to 62.5% abv and tossed in coriander and dried cherries along with oak dominoes. Let everything soak for about 10 days. Then I cold filtered it out of the tank to catch any suspended pectin from the cherries, then aerated it very very thoroughly. Bottled it strong at 48% abv. Mighty tasty IMO.
That stuff is looking good!

I had 2 gallons of muscadine skins and a bit of juice left over from making jelly. Unlike traditional grappa (from what I read) I didn't ferment them first. I cooked up a simple sugar wash of 10 pounds of sugar in five gallons of water, and tossed in the grape skins. When the liquid cooled I pitched my yeast, in a week I took off the skins and the liquid was a nice bright pink/red. Over the course of another week most of the fermenting had stopped. I ran it off once (no thumper) really slow and kept the good parts. Wound up with about a liter and a pint at 120 proof. Smells good, very slight musky grape scent. Going to soak some on oak in the attic for six months in a mason jar.

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Re: Grappa recipe and Process

Post by RockyMountainHigh » Sat May 05, 2018 6:18 pm

Yorg, are you starting with red grapes or white? In either case you start with pomace,which is the skins, seeds and pulp left over from the press. If red, the pomace is already fermented. Add as much water as the amount of juice that was extracted, add sugar to get to you desired OG,then ferment to dry. Rack the solids off when done and you have a “second” wine” to distill like you were making brandy. Strip as low as you have patience. Do a spirits run making cuts at 75 and 60%. Discard foreshots and save the Heads and Tails for a future run.

Mind you, the Italians throw the pomace directly into the still. You risk a burned mess if you do this.

For white grapes which are pressed before fermentation take the pomace and ferment since the pomace has no alcohol in it yet. Rack off the solids after fermentation and distill.

Footnote:the harder you press the more Grappa taste you will get.

I have a more complete recipe if you want it.
We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it. William Faulkner.

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Re: Grappa recipe and Process

Post by RockyMountainHigh » Sat May 05, 2018 6:31 pm

Establishing OG for red pomace is tricky since the gravity reading will be off due to the presence of alcohol in the pomace. Take a reading before sugar addition and then after to guide you in how much the gravity has increased. Or just leave out the sugar. Let me know how you go.
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The Baker
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Re: Grappa recipe and Process

Post by The Baker » Sat May 05, 2018 11:39 pm

RockyMountainHigh said, ' ...the Italians throw the pomace directly into the still....'

I have read of straw being placed in the bottom of the still to prevent scorching.

Straw being hay made from cereal crops, wheat, barley, oats but with the grain removed.

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Re: Grappa recipe and Process

Post by jonnys_spirit » Sun May 06, 2018 12:57 am

Last year I did a grappa run and cooked the pomace slurry in the boiler for a stripping run 13gallon milk can w/5400W element). After I pressed the grapes for the wine I added water and sugar to referment. This year I’m planning on using a cheap wine kit to add back into the pomace along with some water and sugar which will then referment and I’ll have enough for three still charges to strip on the pomace (i’ll remove as many seeds as I can @ pressing). Also plan to save some liquid stillage which I will use like backset or dunder to bring low wines down to 25% for a second stripping run. Depending on how it rolls I may do a tripple distillation also utilizing the stillage to concentrate the grappa flavor.

The pomace however did not scorch last time and I ran the 5400W element at 10, 12, and up to 17 amps towards the end of the run. I’ll be conservative with the power to prevent scorch.

Cheers!
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engunear
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Re: Grappa recipe and Process

Post by engunear » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:28 pm

Some interesting tidbits here, from some experiments and a discussion with a South Australian winemaker.

Pomace is a waste product of winemaking. Most winemakers do not make distilled beverages, and so they have to dispose of their pomace (a potential cost).

Pomace can be used to make alcohol which is valuable, so there are services that will take pomace from wineries for free. A mutually beneficial transaction where no money changes hands. The people with the pomace then distill it into various grades and sell it to whoever wants it, including the wineries for fortified wines, or as neutral spirits if they decide to do boutique spirits (like gin).

The bottom line is that if there is a winery nearby, you may be able to pick up a ton or so of pomace, gratis, though 50kg would satisfy the needs of anyone with a still within HD guidelines.

Pomace is best distilled with a steam injection still. Lots of good stuff in the HD site on how to build one. This avoids having to add water or having problems with gunk burning on the element. Grappa is traditionally made with steam distillation. (Of all the stills I have been involved with, the steam injection setup fills me with the most joy.)

Someone kindly passed me 15kg or so of tempranillo pomace. After a subsequent potstill run, it made a cloudy grappa.. But let me just say "yum"; I'll be back.
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yupiteru
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Re: Grappa recipe and Process

Post by yupiteru » Thu Jul 26, 2018 1:18 pm

I say my view that a bit of knowledge of grapes and Italy is there, I
pay attention to what you do with grape scraps, usually the pressed marcs have rarely already fermented,
from the pressed grapes extract the sweet juice (must) which then ferments later for many days, sometimes a month it takes,
usually who makes grappa ferments the pressed grapes without squeezing it,

then he takes the dripping marcs of wine and distills everything, distills more wine than marc,
some (especially in passsato) for lack of grapes / wine pressed down the pressed marcs, added sugar refermented and made the "vinello"
a few decades ago in Italy there was a terrible scandal, the "wine producers" following this system of making wine with water sugar and pomace, added the cheap (keep strong) METHYL alcohol (si methanol)
to raise ABV,
all ended with many dead and many blind,
at the "broken out" scandal everyone got rid of methanol stocks pouring it into the waterways,
half environmental disaster,
who wants to deepen look for "scandal methanol Italy",
returning to the topic
distilling the marc can be done but you have to ferment and squeeze little or nothing

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Re: Grappa recipe and Process

Post by Dedant » Fri Feb 01, 2019 4:23 pm

I have a dry sherry wine in the 30lt fermenter at the moment, when it dries it is supposed to be racked off and cleared with a secondary fermentation . I am thinking I can run it through the pot still along with some bottles of left over wine from a local wine tasting. Single run with cuts might give a grappa or brandy spirit after soaking some French oak dominos?

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engunear
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Re: Grappa recipe and Process

Post by engunear » Fri Feb 01, 2019 4:36 pm

Not interested in the sherry? I'd try a small batch first. When I have distilled left over wine it has come out pretty average. But I can't think of a logical reason why that might be. Maybe the good wine got drunk, and the crap got distilled. And I've tried adding oak to grappa but never got anything like store-bought brandy. Don't know why. Please let us know how it goes.
Other people can talk about how to expand the destiny of mankind. I just want to talk about how to make whiskey. I think that what we have to say has more lasting value.

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Re: Grappa recipe and Process

Post by NZChris » Fri Feb 01, 2019 10:43 pm

Dedant wrote:Single run with cuts might give a grappa or brandy spirit after soaking some French oak dominos?
I've made quite a bit of brandy with a pot still and I don't think I could steal a decent cut for aging out of a stripping run no matter how slow I ran it.

Fraser
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Re: Grappa recipe and Process

Post by Fraser » Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:49 am

NZChris wrote:
Dedant wrote:Single run with cuts might give a grappa or brandy spirit after soaking some French oak dominos?
I've made quite a bit of brandy with a pot still and I don't think I could steal a decent cut for aging out of a stripping run no matter how slow I ran it.
For my part, I also agree. Maybe someone else could find something in a single run to keep, but for me it's some of the mankiest stuff there is. It's pretty rough distillate to my nose. But then again I've never tried to wrestle it onto oak.
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Re: Grappa recipe and Process

Post by WestVAGuy » Wed Sep 04, 2019 5:39 pm

This is a great read. Full of information from folks who know their stuff.
Suddenly I feel moved to visit tour local winery before their crush and see if I can arrange to get some of their pomice for a trial run of Grappa (maybe by volunteering to assist in their harvest and crush).

I have to compliment EuroStiller on his Grappa posts. His knowledge of the subject is the most complete I have seen in my short life of 77 years, and is delivered with authority.

I spent a few years living on the local economy in a small fishing/farming community in Greece and fell in love with the old timers and the ways they had developed, through necessity, to utilize the few resources they had available. I think EuroStiller may share some appreciation of these feelings. What he is passing along in his posts is much more than just a process or recipe, much more than just folklore, it is history. Appreciate it well, lest it be lost forever.

This forum, as a whole is invaluable to anyone just wishing to understand the processes required to become a successful distiller. It is readily apparent that there are some very talented, experienced and knowledgeable people here who seem to be more than willing to share and help. What a great resource.

Lets please work to preserve it so we have it available for as long as we may be able to use it in the love of our craft, and then pass it along to our children and grandchildren.

A very sincere Thank You to every single individual who contributes to making this forum a success.
A very appreciative WestVAGuy.

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engunear
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Re: Grappa recipe and Process

Post by engunear » Wed Sep 04, 2019 8:44 pm

A bit more progress. A friend located a winery that would give us pomace. We could only get red wine ... a lot of whites have skins removed before ferment. But the red pomace was to be fed to cows.

We scored some shiraz and tempranillo. It made a great grappa as a blend. The shiraz was boring and the tempranillo a bit intense but together ... !
Other people can talk about how to expand the destiny of mankind. I just want to talk about how to make whiskey. I think that what we have to say has more lasting value.

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Re: Grappa recipe and Process

Post by Shyner » Mon Sep 16, 2019 4:00 am

EuroStiller wrote:
Tue Apr 22, 2008 9:11 pm
Grappa in the Modern Age - The Rise of a Poor Mans Drink

And I thought the dissertation I wrote to pass medical school was tough!

Lets begin at the beginning, around the year 1225 AD, when Arab traders acquainted Italians with the art of distillation. This probably occurred at the major seaports of Venice, Ancona, Pescara, Bari, Naples, and Genoa (on the Main Land) From there, the idea slowly spread across Spain, into France, and then northward until it was in full use by 1650 AD. Now by this time people were already making both wine and beer, this is well documented. It is also well known because water at the time was generally unsafe to drink whereas spirits in drink, even as low as 2% abv, would not transmit most of the water-born pathogenic diseases of the day. Now skip forward a bit in time to the 1500’s. This is when we first se the emergence of grape pommace being distilled. There are many accepted methods for the production of grappa, and they vary among Italy’s 20 regions as they appear on the map today. The most common is to simply dump the pommace into an alembic or copper “pot” type still, add water to cover, and distill. However; as I stated earlier, there are many other accepted methods for the production of grappa. Before I precede any further I need to describe as best I can, how grappa has been categorized in modern times.

Young (Giovane)- Clear, un-aged, harsh 40- 80% abv

Cask- Aged (Affinata) Refined or Fine- Clear going in, almost always Chestnut or
Blackberry casks for at least 6 months. Can pick
up some color, does pick up taste. 40- 60% abv

Cask-Aged (Vecchia) Old - Clear going in, barrels changed out sometimes after 6
Months. Minimum time in cask 12 months. Does pick up some
color, definitely does pick up taste. 40- 60% abv

Cask-Aged (Stravecchia) Very Old- A very special class of cask aged grappa. In additon
to the traditional Chestnut and Blackberry cask,
Cherry, Oak, and Acacia cask are used as well. The Oak
being of a special variety (Quercus ilex). In
addition to that, the source must be
distinguished as either “monovitigno”- single grape or
“polivitigno”- multiple varieties of grapes.
Polivitigno varieties at on time were limited to 85% of one
type of grape. This has since changed with the demand for
more Grappa! 40- 60% abv

Aromatic (Aromatica) Grappa prepared in the style of French Marc. Herbs, spices, etc
are placed at the bottom of the boiler and the
pommace piled atop it. Distillation is then
carried out. It is like making an essential oil
in alcohol at the same time. Generally,
these are just bottle aged.
Lately I have seen their prices climbing for
some strange reason.
I’d much rather shell out the bucks for a snoot
full of Vecchia any day!

Aromatized (Aromitizata) The classic method of taking a single herb, spice,
citrus peel, or plant and infusing it’s flavor into
the grappa via maceration. Sometimes a bit of
sugar is added as well. These are making it to
market more and more these days! They were mostly
home made before and not considered fit for resale.
I have well over 200 recipes for aromatized grappas.
Here is the sad part they are so good and so simple
to prepare They are superior to aromatics, because
not only do you get the scent but you get the subtle
flavor and sometimes the medicinal benefit of the macerate!
Go look at the price of a bottle of say Pear Grappa and you will
crap your pants!


So now that you understand how Grappa has been classified, we can go in to the vineyard and get our feet dirty. And you though I was going to jump to directly to distillation. This is my definitive treatise Grappa; I get to give you all 28 years of my knowledge on the subject.

Q: Is grappa from northern Italy is better than grappa from southern Italy because the grapes have low acid?

A: Bullsh!t. This is northern propaganda against the wine and grappa producing areas of the south, the islands of Sicily and Sardinia! My home in Italy is in a very viniferous area, that borders that north south boundry line. The soil is not the A+, however, the vines are watered with pure glacial melt that is so cold it freezes you fingers if you touch it. This mineral rich water also bubbles up through many wells found everywhere.

Q: Is grappa made from red grapes or white grapes?
A: Both! But since more red wine was/ is made in Italy, the grappa comes from the pommace of the red grape. Red grapes also contain tannins, which contribute to the fire of the distillate and sometimes a bit of residual color in the grappa. In addition red wines also tend to have higher alcohol content; therefore, the pommace has more alcohol in it and still viable yeasts that can be utilized if one knows what they are doing! Don’t forget, red pommace is in contact with the alcohol for a longer period, whereas, white pommace generally is not. White pommace has less to no alcohol content to it, less tannin, and more often than not, less acid. In summation: Grappa from red grape pommace yields more spirit when distilled, but it is hotter on the tongue and takes longer to tame. Pommace from white grape yields less spirit when distilled, it is just as hot on the tongue, however it mellows easier. Both aromatize well.

Q: What kind of grapes do they use?
A: As a general rule, the juicer the grape, the better the grappa (and the better the wine).
I was taught to look for a Brix of 20-23 for red wine. Any higher, and you have mold issues. Especially because I do not use, or believe in Camden Tablets (Sodium Metabisulphite). I have never had an issue to date with bad wine or whatever. Grappa makers in the North of Italy obsess over low-acid grapes. This is simply because they want to turn out as much grappa as possible, as quick as possible. They do not follow classic distillation methods anyway. More on distillation later. So when it comes to grapes, this is my opinion: Take what you can get and make the best of it. If it turns out good, mark your notes so you can repeat you steps! It worked for my ancestors. I have tomes of notes, recipes, Brix readings, vineyard temperatures, etc…

Q: When are you going to cover distillation?
A: Now


Distillation of Grappa- Miscellaneous tidbits first
As you saw in that video clip, a river of grappa pouring out of his condenser, that may have not been low wine or what we call “acquatico”. Even if it was low wine, low wine is not discarded in Italy. It is sweetened and usually consumed th day it is made having at least 12 % abv. It is not uncommon for Italian distillers to employ “doppia serpentina” or double serpent/ condensing coil. In Italy I have a very large copper alembic still, with a pre- heater, that leads to double serpentine cooling coils in a water bath tank, that re-connect just before the output. What’s the purpose? Well long ago, large diameter copper pipe was difficult to make, and coil. So, double it to compensate for the pressure coming out of a 400 Liter boiler! What they discovered is that it also doubled efficiency. Why nobody else is doing this is beyond me!

The pre- heater is generally used when we distill wine for brandy. It is also handy for a step my great- grandfather called “rajjungio” or re-adding. This is just one of my family’s grappa tricks. We stop part way through distillation, and pour the distillate back into the boiler. Essentially, starting over! I did not understand this at first but it is just basically double distilling.

All good grappa is distilled in an alembic or “pot” still to preserve the flavor. The device is traditionally made of copper. Stainless steel is acceptable. I would draw the line there. I think the UTF (Agency of Finance and Customs), the primary, and other Italian departments that oversee the purity and production of certain foods and beverages would see it that way too. My big gripe with grappa is with these companies pumping out 375ml bottles of crap at $30+ bucks a pop. On top of that, wine snobs giving it good reviews!!

Every distillery does it differently, so I cannot point a finger and I should not make blanket statements. Some extract by steam distillation, some by vacuum distillation, and yet others the traditional route.

Basic Grappa needs to contain: Stalks, stems, seeds, pulp, and skins of the pressed fermented grapes. The pommace can range from lightly fermented out to totally fermented out. In the North the go mid- range, but as you head further south, you will find that people are distilling fully fermented out pommace. This also depends o the harvest.

The basic procedure is simple enough: Weigh your pommace to get a rough idea of what you have and remember the number, no move on. Coarse stems and stalks go in first, providing a bed for the soft pommace. Yes, this does mean that after pressing, you have to open you press and take the cake apart and sort through it. Oh, and don’t press your cake too dry! So, pile all you soft pommace on the stems. Fill you boiler two-thirds full. If you have used all you pommace then that number you have in you head will come in handy, otherwise you will have to wing it. Add half the weight in water or water to come half way up the side of your boiler. Ready, set, distill. You will be running you’re still hard and fast at first to get things going. After, you will be able to cut back the heat but not by much. Be sure to run your distillate through filter paper or coffee filters, just like in the video. The rapid boiling in the boiler can sometimes throw seeds or stuff through the condensing coil. Apart from that it is just good to do anyway. When you hit your low wine, you done.
Cool your pot, clean it out, then run it again if you want a stronger product.

On re-fermentation:
I should not even have mentioned this. If my grandfather were alive he would strangle me to death! This came about completely by chance. A few years after WWII they had a huge harvest, so much so that they crated the grapes and brought them into the upper cellar until they could get to them. I have to give you some idea of the size of the press involved here. It takes 2 people to work the ratchet. The basket, well take 2 #45 presses and put em together and your somewhat close. At any rate, that year, there was no way that he was going to have enough time to take care of the farm, his law firm, the wine, and the distillation. But he did, worked day and night though the entire harvest season to get it done. So this first batch was a red, it got pressed and the cake set-aside for over 3 days. It was almost a complete loss. The second batch was a white wine, Malvasia grapes growing way out of their region and thriving like mad! White wines do not sit on the skins. So the got stomped. Yes by the feet of beautiful women, in a large marble vat and the juice pressed right away. Well, he looked at the almost dry cake and the wet cake and figured, what the fu~k! When the ladies were done with the dancing and singing and the tub was drained, my grandfather combined both cakes in the tub with some water and some fresh pressed juice. Just enough to make the mass moist again. Then he covered it with burlap. A few days later the whole mass was fizzing with activity. After the fermentation died off, he distilled it. And when he did, he said it was the best grappa he had ever mad or had! Over the years he refined the process even more. Now it’s to the point where it’s just a matter of taking the pommace, add freshly pressed juice to it, add some water and letting it re-ferment. I’ve taken it a step further because American grapes are sprayed and there is little to no good natural yeast on them anymore, so I add a pinch, just a pinch of EC-1118, and wait. I have found that my yield of grappa is considerably and consonantly better, unless the grapes I get are not so good. But so far, knock on wood I have been lucky. So, basically, you’re just fermenting the new juice that’s added, but there is more to it. I’d bet my left nut that it’s picking up residual sugars as well. In addition, that second fermentation gives another dimension to the flavor of the grappa. I can't quite understand what is happening, but it is very unique!


How to enjoy Grappa-Properly
Young Grappa you enjoy between 10-12.75 degrees C/ 50-55 degrees F
Aged Grappa you enjoy between 15.5- 18.3 degrees C/ 60-65 degrees F
Don’t drink Grappa like shots, it will give you a headache and make you sick, just like drinking red wine too fast!!

Originally Grappa was used as a medicine. Now it is taken at the end of meals with espresso to aid in digestion. I tend to like my own Grappa Aromitizata al Limone, Lemon Grappa, after dinner. Then again my grappa is 60 %abv!!
Amazing post on Grappa. You did an outstanding job, I think I am ready to make grappa. You mentioned a video a couple of times, do you have a current link to the video?

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