Women, dedicate yourselves to grappa!
Grappa needs women. More women passionate about grappa, more women as experts and tasters. Above all, more women ambassadors of the Italian distillate.
Paola Soldi, president of the Associazione Nazionale Assaggiatori di Grappe e Acquaviti (ANAG – National Association of Grappa and Distillate Tasters), has no doubts. It is not a question of pink quotas or gender equality, but of a cultural revolution: more women behind the grappa tasting counters would help rejuvenate the sector, expand consumer base and, above all, give the male counterpart eyes, or rather, new taste buds with which they can taste the Italian spirit par excellence.
President Soldi, let’s take a step back: how is grappa in Italy?
It is fine, indeed, from a qualitative point of view it is even better. We saw it during the last edition of the Alambicco d’Oro award. Grappas are “aging” and they do it with extreme elegance. We have evaluated increasingly soft and fascinating samples, with long and very long aging, capable of competing for aromas and complexity with any aged distillate in the world.
And young grappas?
Young grappas are the cross and delight of our profession.
What do you mean?
The cross, because they are difficult to explain to those approaching the world of grappa for the first time, especially if they are foreigners. In a sector where distillates are normally “neutral” and are heavily flavored by mixologists, white grappa is “too characterized”, “too marked” by the aromas of the grape of origin.
And the delight?
Ironically, for the same reasons that make it a distillate that is more difficult to offer to newbies. Young grappa is vigorous, it has a strong personality, and carries with it the aromatic profile of the grapes from which it is distilled. It changes from region to region, it is never standard: like wine, it is a direct expression of a territory. We Italians are used to perceiving these differences and valuing them, because we live in a reality rich in tastes and nuances, which have been part of us since birth. For others, however, this diversity is more difficult to understand.
Do today’s young people grasp this richness?
It is useless to deny it. The complexity of our national distillate requires patience and maturity. Young people can approach grappas through cocktails, but it is only when a conscious and adult personal taste develops that one really gets in tune with grappa. This does not depend on purely personal taste, but requires time, education and sensitivity.
A more feminine sensitivity?
Why not? The world of grappa has long been a male universe. Today, however, grappas are really softer, more fascinating, less aggressive than in the past. During the tastings, I notice that when a woman is talking about grappa, other women approach, ask, understand, taste, overcome their natural reluctance to the distillate. Women, for example, have a lot to say about grappa because they have a highly developed sensitivity towards perfumes, they catch them instantly and know how to evaluate them with competence and feminine “touch”.
Can we make an appeal?
Let’s do it (laughs). We ask women to become ANAG tasters, to hold tasting courses and become ambassadors of grappa in the world. Following their example there will certainly be more women intrigued by grappa. And this can only be good for the whole sector.