Recommendation Request: Friendly Liquor Dealer with Grappa Knowledge!
So I've searched the boards and haven't been able to find quite what I'm looking for so I turn to you, dear acolytes. I figured I'd post on the Manhattan board, but if I'd be better served on the Spirits board, let me know!
I'm searching for a liquor dealer/seller/store (you get the idea, I hope) :) in Manhattan (although I will travel to BK, BX, QNS, Westchester, Northern Jersey, or Southern CT if neccessary) that has really friendly and knowledgable proprietors/clerks. (I know, I know--that's what we're all searching for). :) The problem I'm having is that I have a grappa obsession, but I'm not that experienced or knowledgable, and certainly not rolling in cash. I'm looking to choose my next few bottles but at every store I've been to, it always seems like grappa is the outcast child who no one is interested in! I'll also need some sherry soon, so it'd be a bonus if a good place to go grappa hunting is a good palce to go sherry hunting, but grappa is my more immidiate need. If anyone has any recommendations on grappa-specific publications, I'd love that as well. Wine is so much easier to get information about; I'm dealing with a lot of grappa-related frustration! (Obviously time to go have a glass of grappa...). :) But before that, my final inquiry: does anyone know of any grappa tastings/events coming up? :)
I appreciate any and all your help!
>Rose (a twenty-something girl who, thanks to a grappa obsession, is described by friends as turning into an old Italian man) :D
If I hadn't just tasted the wonderful Grappa Chardonnay last week at a friend's house I wouldn't understand your passion. I had the Bassanina Grappa Chardonnay ( I JUST now found the English version of the website http://www.bassanina.it/eng/profilo.asp ) that was supposely picked up from a "grocery store" in Venice. All I can say is, this must be the kind of things you can only get so casually in its native environment, much like this clear spirit I once had in China that had the same sort of integrity. This grappa at times had the fleeting scent of green tea, at another pouring it gave me citrus..but most of all it was the smoothness, nector-like roundness and warmth that pleased me, and all without the common distracting waft of alcohol being separate from the core.
I hope you get replies for your inquiry as I am also very interested in finding out the availability of good grappa in the city.
It's really an amazing spirit, isn't it?! I bought it (an Inga Muscato grappa) for the first time for a recipe (grappa semifreddo with espresso sauce) and ended up falling in love with it on its own. I'm not a whisky or scotch person, and not even a "regular" brandy person, but grappa just does it for me. It has such an intense heat, a wonderful astringency that perfectly lightens a hearty meal when drunk as a digestif, and a way of blossoming on the tongue that I have found to be far more complex than many other spirits. Salute to grappa (and enthusiasm for it)! :)
A couple things come to mind. You might want to try Italian Wine Merchants near Union Square. They have very specific tastings there and they may do grappa tastings once in a while. You could also go to the bar at Babbo or Lupa. Both have good grappa selections (Babbo's is the better of the two). Order some grappa and talk to either the bartender or sommelier. My guess is either one might be able to point you in the right direction. My fiancee is really into grappa too and they love her because you're right, many people seem to overlook grappa and it can be refreshing to have someone genuinely interested.
Good luck and please report back!
In the Belmont section of the Bronx, the Mt. Carmel Wine & Spirits store on 187th street (north side, just east of Arthur Ave.) specializes in Italian wines and grappas. I haven't engaged anyone in conversation there, but - and this is a guess - I'd think they'd be worth talking to.
Their website shows some of their grappa selections: