The numbers of Grappa
In order to be marketed, Grappa must have an alcoholic content of not less than 37.5% in volume (40% for the Grappa with a Geographic Indications). The alcohol strength is obtained by means of dilution with water, in accordance with the provision of Presidential Decree no. 236/88.
The vine species most used in the production of Grappa are Muscat, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Pinot and Prosecco.
In Italy there are nearly 130 Grappa producers. There are no official data available, however it is possible to estimate that 63% of the distilleries are in the north-east, followed by the north-west with a much lower 23%. In central-southern Italy there are a little over 14% of the companies. The majority of Grappa distilleries are in Veneto with 45, with 38 in the Trentino and 24 in Piedmont. Yet it is surprising that Tuscany has only 4 and Sicily just 3.
With the 1-litre and 1,5-litre bottles almost entirely no longer used, the most used glass format is the 700 ml, even if the half-litre and 100 ml formats have been welcomed by Grappa drinkers.
However, some producers are “reviving” the old 2 and 3-litres bottles, even if almost exclusively for display purposes.
Grappa comes under the category of spirits and, as such, is taxed by the State through the excise on alcohol. In the case in question, the tax-rate refers to the anhydrous litre, i.e. the unit of volume net of water (the word anhydrous comes from the Greek and means without water). Example: a one-litre bottle of 40° proof Grappa contains 1x40:100 = 0.4 anhydrous litres of alcohol, whereas a full litre of product is called hydrated litre. The amount paid to the State for every anhydrous litre of alcohol produced in the Grappa category is equal to € 8.001.
Between 2000 and 2003, the Italian market saw a constant increase in Grappa consumption; however a slow decline has been recorded since 2004. In fact, the number of bottles decreased from nearly 36 million in 2003 to 32.5 million in 2007.
The production recorded some years of positive trend: from 100,000 hectolitres of anhydrous alcohol produced a year, in the three-year period 2000-2002, to 125,000 in 2004. In 2006 Grappa production recorded a –6.84% decrease, equivalent to 117,000 hectolitres of anhydrous alcohol.
In the last three-year period, production has stabilised and, from 2000 to 2007, the trend recorded an average annual increase of nearly 3%, even if with ups and downs, thus showing prospects of concrete stability for the future.
Lastly, exports of bottled Grappa have started to increase, with values higher than those of 2000, equal to 22,417 hectolitres of anhydrous alcohol in 2007.