Secrets for a barrel aged Grappa
If you want to add structured shades and rich aromas to a young, clear and pungent Grappa, you can try to age it. It isn’t difficult to do it at home, with the right tools and advice you can have pleasant and fragrant aged Grappa, enriched with the typical wood and tobacco perfumes.
A so-called barrique Grappa, requires strict production rules, whereas to age a white Grappa it is sufficient a small barrel and a good young Grappa as a starting point.
How to choose the barrel for the aging of a Grappa
The barrels for sales are different in sizes and types, the most used and advised are the oak or ash ones, rarer and more expensive are the cherry wood and almond tree barrels to be chosen if you prefer delicate aromas, in fact they give less intense aromatic shades. To drink it at home you can buy small barrels, 5,8 or 10 litres or dare with larger barrel of 20 or 32 litres.
Chose carefully the barrel, relying on an expert that will advise you evaluating the quality and type. It is important to use barrels not treated with waterproof agents or other chemical components that will alter the liquids or not allowed a proper transpiration. It is important to allow the natural interactions between Grappa and oxygen, which occurs thanks to the porosity of the wood that allows a continuous transpiration and oxidation of the liquid. The more porosity, the more oxidation, responsible of the changings in colour, taste and the increasing of the sourness. Thus, based on the chosen wood it will change the aged process.
Oak is a solid and strong wood which can protect the Grappa, limiting the oxidation and resulting neutral to the aromas; ash is a neutral wood as well, solid and without tannin, it can preserve the liquid very well. Cherry tree wood is, instead, really porous, giving delicate aromas and an amber/rose colour.
So based on the barrel the pleasantness, the aromas intensity and the colour can vary.
Grappa aging process
So, the barrel is fundamental, but also choosing the right Grappa is important. You can choose a young white Grappa, without stretching out on the quality, or flavored Grappa as a cherry Grappa. The important thing is to introduce in the barrel only the liquor, without fruit. Prefer small barrels in order to increase the contact between the liquid and the wood to promote the interactions. The aging time varies based on the quantity and the intensity of the aromas desired; for the small barrels it is advisable an aging period from three to six months or more.
In the barrel is full, enhance the natural exchange and avoid evaporation, in any case it is better to move periodically the barrel, turning it slightly, above all if it isn’t completely full. Keep the barrel in a chill place, avoiding the direct exposition to the sun or hot places.
The result of the aging process
When a Grappa spend time in a wood barrel, it changes their taste and colour; from transparent to straw yellow to amber tones at the end. The colour will be more intense based on the time spent in the barrel. The contact with wood and the extraction of the lignin give various aromas like vanilla, tobacco and dried fruit, to cocoa and cinnamon.
How to taste the aged Grappa
To better taste the olfactory and organoleptic shades, serve the aged Grappa at a temperature of 17°. Use the proper glasses, small tulip glasses, with a thin steam, round and a flared end to release all its fragrances.