Myth #8- Pisco is like grappa
This is the 8th post of a series of mythbusters to clarify misconceptions about Peruvian pisco.
Both pisco and grappa are grape distillates. However, besides sharing the same base ingredient of vitis vitifera, these spirits have very little in common.
The grapes used to make grappa and pisco pass through very different processes before turning into brandy. Berries in grappa production are crushed and used to make wine. After winemaking, the leftover skins, seeds and stalks are repurposed, turning the pomace into grappa via bain-marie or steam distillation. The Italian clear spirit can be aged in barrels or it can be bottled right away.
Peruvian pisco, on the other hand, is made from grapes that are grown and selected solely for pisco production. After crushing, the juice is collected and then fermented before distillation. Unlike the grapes used for grappa, the stems, seeds and skins of Peruvian pisco grapes are discarded. After distillation, it must rest a minimum of 3 months, but never in barrels, ensuring that pisco is always a clear spirit.
There are many other differences between the two grape-based spirits. We have summarized them in this pisco vs. grappa chart:
A brandy made from the fruit juice only. Skins, pips and stalks are discarded before distillation.
A pomace brandy. The fermented skins, seeds and stalks leftover from winemaking are distilled.
Must rest in neutral casks a minimum of 3 months.
Can be bottled after distillation or aged in barrels.
To be called pisco, it must be made in one of the 5 pisco-producing regions in Peru, from grapes grown in those regions.
To be called grappa in the European Union, it must be made from pomace from Italian grapes and distilled in Italy, the Italian part of Switzerland or San Marino.
No water is needed to aid with fermentation, but no water is allowed in Peruvian pisco post-distillation.
Fermentation and distillation must occur on the pomace—no added water allowed.
Usually copper pot, direct flame heated. Sometimes a falca still is used.
Uses bain-marie or steam distillation so pomace doesn’t burn.
Made from any of the 8 varieties permitted by the D.O. in Peru.
Made from any grape variety used in wine-making.
Has both single variety piscos (puros) and blends (acholados).
Has both single variety grappas and blends (polivitigni).
No age classification
Has age classification:
Affinata- less than 12 months in barrels
Invecchiata/Vecchia- 12-18 months
Stravecchia/Riserva-more than 18 months.
No flavoring or infusions allowed during production.
Allows for flavoring (infusion post-distillation).
Distilled to proof.
Watered down after distillation to reach desired proof.
Want to take this chart to go? Download the differences between pisco and grappa here: Pisco vs. Grappa
“Poli Grappa Museum.” Poli Grappa Museum – Grappa and Brandies Tales, www.grappa.com/eng/index.php.