Cinque Terre Grappa


This is a story that can only happen in Italy, I think.

We’ve moving into a new house, and because Levanto is a small town with very close ties between everyone, it turned out that the person whose parking spot I needed to borrow to put in a dumpster for the contractors was both the ex-husband of one of my students and the father of a woman from whom I buy prosciutto.  He very generously allowed me to use his spot, and while showing me where the keys to the gate were, he invited me over to try some grappa, “like they used to make here.”

I assumed he meant some moonshine variety, and was preparing my stomach for the fire it might set there, but as it turned out, he was talking about Cinque Terre Grappa that had been made at a local distillery in Levanto, long-since defunct, and which I didn’t know had ever existed.  He guessed the bottle was at least 20 years old, probably more.  He had found it among some other things shoved into the back cover of a cellar that he was cleaning out for his daughter’s use.

And so we sat in that cellar and sipped grappa, talking about how things were in the old days when his father ran the local olive press (powered by a mule) and the woods were so clean you could walk barefoot through them.

The grappa was smooth and delicious, having lost all of its sharp edges during its twenty plus years of aging in an abandoned corner. 

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