It is always nice to see my old father return from Italy and even better when he carries with him a shiny new bottle of the good stuff. In truth, it is pretty rare that he lets me down on that front.
So, imagine my pleasure when he furnished me with a nice bottle of Torba Rossa made - so the bottle tells me - with smoked red grape stems.
Now, in many ways the imbibing experience is unlike drinking grappa at all. The colour is a pretty intense amber and the smell almost akin to a malt whisky. Even the taste is much lighter than a hardened acquavita fan would be used to.
Indeed, in some ways this looks like one of those "designer grappas" intended to make you part with a lot of money for what ought to be a good old-fashioned mountain man/woman's brew. The packaging is similar to the long, cardboard tubes which the finest whisky comes in. So the whole experience leans on the pretentious side.
Nonetheless, I had no problem sampling my first "dram" at the weekend. Yes, it is more refined than some may like and carries an almost delicate perfume. But, if it takes grappa to a wider audience I am not going to speak out against it. It also prompted me to tidy up my drinks cupboard which led to the discovery of a tiny amount of long-forgotten Grappa Moscato. So that takes my "collection" to three bottles!
Overall, it won't rip your throat out or burn what remains of your windpipe but it is a pleasant after dinner drink - especially if you don't want to feel its aftermath for a few days to come.