What’s the difference between brandy and grappa?

Brandy is the umbrella term under which grappa falls. Basically, brandy is a family of spirits that has three sub categories: fruit brandy, grape brandy, and pomace brandy. Pomace brandy includes grappa and also Marc from France and Orujo from Spain. “Think of brandy as a sibling to those things, and as a cousin to cognac and armagnac,” Rosenbaum says.

How do you drink grappa?

Like most things, Rosenbaum says the best way to enjoy grappa depends on what type of drinker you are. “If you don’t like tequila or gin straight, you might not enjoy grappa neat,” he says. “But that’s the traditional way they serve it—as a digestif in Italy.”

But if you’re more into cocktails, it would be great in place of vodka in an Espresso Martini. He also recommends aged grappa in a Sidecar, or aromatic grappa in a Negroni in place of gin. You’ll also see it in a caffè corretto mixed with espresso. “This is your Italian version of an Irish coffee,” Rosenbaum says.

How popular is grappa in the U.S.?

In recent years, the popularity of grappa is on the rise, thanks to the broad appeal of other Italian spirits like Aperol, Campari, and various amari. “The last two years, there’s been an uptick with the amount of grappa exported to the U.S. in terms of volume,” Rosenbaum says. “The value of grappa is much higher and people are having less of a problem spending more money on grappa.”

What are the best brands of grappa to start with?

Rosenbaum recommends three different producers in order to be introduced to the spirit. Poli Grappa di Moscato maes a single-varietal grappa with some complex aromatics. “They made a moscato grappa that smells like flowers and fresh fruit,” he says.

The second recommendation is Gra’it by Distillerie Bonollo, which is an unaged grappa made from many different grape varieties from all over Italy. That is a bit more affordable, clocking in at less than $40 a bottle.

Lastly, Rosenbaum suggests Giare from Marzadro Distillery. “It’s lovely, aged for three years in oak barrels,” he says. “You won’t get a buttery Napa chardonnay taste. Instead, you’ll have more sweet spice, vanilla, and cedar aromas.”

He adds: “My advice to anyone who wants to explore the category is try often and try as many different styles as you can.”