Grappa, carbs, calories and crap

You want to choose a digestif to follow your Banting-diet meal? Well, according to a recent press released I received recently, trying to clamber aboard the band-wagon, you should go for grappa. It’s actually a thoroughly misinformed (as well as typically vacuous) bit of froth and nonsense, I’m afraid, so perhaps check out a few facts before imbibing too enthusiastically.

grappasBut feel free to welcome, as I do, the introduction of some more grappas onto the local market (these ones are from the producer Bottega, and if they are as widely available as the announcement has it, I shall be pleased, as I’ve found grappa – or the local husk spirits like those of Dalla Cia and Wilderer, very hard to find in liquor stores, though it’s another bit of fiction to say that “South Africans are now being introduced to grappa”: these are far from being the first commercial imports).

“Grappa is produced in a similar way to quality brandy” says the release, though pointing out that grappa is made from the left-overs of wine production, not from wine itself. But no, anyway, grappa is produced with a completely different kind of still and distillation process from brandy.

Then: “The result of the quality ingredients and production method versus other spirits such as commercial vodka or gin is that grappa is purer, more fragrant, and less sweet and because it is made from grape marc and not grains such as rye or barley, it is ultimately lower in carbohydrates and calories.” Wow. That’s quite a bundle of problematic claims.

All spirits are equally free of sugar unless they are sweetened. Sugar does not survive distillation. Some spirits, like brandy and cognac are, admittedly, often slightly sweetened. But the calories of any little sugar introduced are irrelevant to the calories contained in alcohol – which contains 7 calories per gram, whether it’s whisky, brandy or grappa. And grappa is not inevitably “purer” (purer what?) than any spirit (it’s less pure, by most measures, than most vodka is, for example), and whether it’s more fragrant is another dubious claim.

Grappa lower in carbohydrates? Nonsense!

It’s perhaps rather ironical, with this ostensible concern for people’s dieting efforts, that the press release announcing that Bottega grappas are to be available locally spends quite a bit of space talking about grappa being used in cocktails, like “the Alex Winter, which is made using Alexander Grappa, orange juice, strawberry syrup, and a dash of lemon” – plenty of carbs, not to mention fattening calories, in that!

If you want to get thin, avoiding alcohol entirely will help a lot, whether in wine or beer (that’s full of carbs to give you a beer-belly!) or whisky or grappa. But, of course, beware of some “low alcohol” drinks, including wines, which pack in plenty of sugar.

And if you don’t want to get irritated, avoid press releases like this one.

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