Sensory Evaluation of Grappa


The first of the three stages to evaluate a grappa includes analysis of the clearness and tone of the color.

The first characteristic concerns the verification of the absence of veiling or floating residue in the distillate that, should they be encountered, would indicate problems in the production stage. The tone of the color reflects the category to which the grape spirit belongs. Usually young grappas have no color and are crystal clear, aged grappas tend towards yellow, while aromatized grappas take on a part of the pigmentation of the herb or fruit used to aromatize them.


In this, the most important of the stages, it is recommended that you move the glass slowly towards the nose, perhaps doing so twice to avoid the olfactory membranes becoming accustomed to the scent.

The olfactory examination is done based on the sensations created by the volatile elements in the grappa. It is necessary to verify the absence of defects in the form of unpleasant odors, among which are the scent of silos, a waxy or sour sensation – a symptom of poorly preserved marc – or sensations of particular pungency, which are signs of problems during distillation/poor cutting of heads. Following verification of the absence of defects (which would justify ending the evaluation of the grape spirit), the search for positive scents begins, among which are those that recall floral, fruity and spicy notes.

These sensations are then amplified and blended together with those that reach the olfactory membrane through evaporation in the oral cavity following tasting and swallowing of the distillate. It is important to note that the identification of olfactory and aftertaste sensations is considerably affected by personal disposition and past experiences in relation to specific scents.


To prevent excessive burning sensations, limiting first contact in the mouth to a very small quantity of grappa that is then swallowed slowly is recommended. Following the initial, inevitable alcoholic sensation comes the sensation of sweet and bitter, acidic, and then all the tactile sensations, among which the feeling of cleanness and oiliness on the tongue are particularly important the perception of oily sensations is a symptom of a not very refined distillation, therefore not good quality.

The analysis is completed by inhaling the air and then perceiving the aftertaste sensed by the olfactory membrane, which must not include unpleasant sensations.