A Distilled Wine Known as Grappa at Vanto in the QVB in Sydney.

In Sydney I regularly explore the bars and restaurants, looking to discover something new. In menus I look for different combinations of food that are unique or interesting, as well as drinks I’d never heard of.

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Sometimes I’ll be at a restaurant where I’ve already tried everything, but I’ll try something again that might be worthy of a review.

This review falls into the former category as, and I was quite surprised to realise, I’ve never really tried grappa.

Grappa is a drink made from the remains of the wine making process (seeds, pulp, skin and stems known collectively as pomace). This is distilled and converted into a higher level alcohol. Sometimes 30% to 50%. It is like drinking vodka but with a slight wine taste. It is made in Italy, the Italian parts of Switzerland as well as San Marino.

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I was curious about this and had gone to Vanto in the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) in Sydney with a friend to try one of the ones on their menu.

The first one we tried was called Grappa di Moscato from Villa de Varde. For $10.90 a glass I was expecting something a little larger. However I was glad of the amount as it tasted like faintly sweet smelling vodka. I actually couldn’t taste the moscato at all, and it was a completely clear. Not a hint of grape colouring anywhere.

The waitress could see our surprise and offered free seedless olives in cold pressed olive oil to accompany the drinks. These were amazing olives and the best I had tasted. A very good accompanyment to this otherwise strong liquor.

With the help of the owners she informed us of everything to do with grappa, and we became curious about the other one on the menu. So much so we returned the following week to try it.

With olives.

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The second grappa was amazing. Grappa Riserva Barrique, also from Villa De Varde. It had a very enticing aroma of oak (almost cedar-like) and the colour was darker, like wine. The taste had a lot more complexity and smoothness, having been aged in the barriques for awhile. This one we really enjoyed. At $12.90 a glass it is an acquired taste, though if you like brandy and wish to try something a bit different, this is recommended.

While we didn’t eat this time, I have eaten at Vanto before and had had a very delicious mud crab when they first opened. I don’t believe they offer it anymore, though as their menu continues changing, it’ll probably come back at some point. There are some amazing dishes on the menu, and I’m very happy to see they have gluten-free meals available.

For me, it isn’t really the place for me to have a quick coffee. The wide round cups with the tiny handles cannot be gripped by people with weak fingers like me. If they changed their coffee cups I would likely be there almost every day.

Unlike a number of other places in the area, the wine list changes regularly, so I have worked through the list quite a number of times and thoroughly recommend their choices.

…So much so we went back again this weekend!

This Saturday my partner and I followed up my visit to Vanto by exploring their Vegan, gluten free options.

My partner ordered an 8 inch Gamberi (mozzarella, green king prawns, zucchini, fresh tomatoes and parmesan cheese, minus garlic $16.90)

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and I ordered the Vegana gluten free option (tomato sauce, spinach, artichoke, olive and mushroom $20.90+$2 for gluten-free).

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The Gamberi was crunchy with that delicious wood-fired taste. The King prawns were succulent and juicy, though as neither of us like oil that much, the olive oil seemed a little too much for the pizza. If you like oil, wood-fired crust and prawns, you’ll love this one.

The Vegana was a delight with every bite. I was very pleased with the olive and mushroom tastes, and the spinach was juicier than I expected. The tomato paste used on the base could have been a bit more flavoursome, though the request for chilli and tobasco was quickly responded to, and we couldn’t fault the condiments.

I also had a glass of their Loggia Carmina Prosecco from DOCG (Italy) which was $11. A sparkling white wine with a very fresh grape presence.

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My partner ordered one of their tea blends for $6.50.

All in all, a nice lunch on a Saturday.

Saturday Sydney 1. Prices are subject to change without notice.

  • Neil A is an author, blogger and tutor, with a variety of books on Amazon. Check out his children's series here: http://www.AlienCharacters.com