Ica, the land of Pisco, by the way, what is Pisco?

So I thought that since I am half Peruvian and studying wine, I would spend my hard-earned money and visit the wine region of Peru. This area is known as Ica.

Ica is a city that is known for two things: Pisco and the 8.0 magnitude earthquake of 1997.  Ica is located about 4.5 hours south of Lima, Peru, by bus, and it has incredible dry weather that is like summer all year long. It was founded in 1563 by the Spanish, who brought with them vines to plant in this new land.

Ica has about 250,000 people and is home to about 10 wineries (of which I was able to find, this is open to correction). In order to try the wines and Piscos of the region, I had the chance to visit  two industrial wineries: Vista Alegre winery, Tacama Winery, and one traditional winery, El Catador winery.Some say that the word pisco comes from the Quechan word ‘pisqu’, which was the name of a bird found in the Ica valley region of Peru.

Pisco is similar to the Spanish Orujo, a distilled wine made into a liquor of 38 to 43% alcohol (ABV), and it is a very strong spirit.  It is usually colorless or a yellow, amber color that can be classified as a brandy or what I feel it more similar to, aguardiente.  I felt at times I was breathing fire because of how strong this drink taken straight was.

There are 4 types of Pisco:

  • Puro (Pure), made from a single variety of grape, mostly Quebranta, although Mollar or Common Black can be used; however, no blending between varieties is accepted (“pure” pisco should contain only one variety of grape). I would call this the fire-breathing version. This is what is used to make the well-known Pisco Sour drink.
  • Aromáticas (Aromatic), made from Muscat or Muscat-derived grape varieties, and also from Albilla, Italia, and Torontel grape varieties; once again, the pisco should only contain one variety of grape in any production lot. Some are more aromatic than others.
  • Mosto Verde (Green Must), distilled from partially fermented must, this must be distilled before the fermentation process has completely transformed sugars into alcohol. This can be a bit smoother on the palate than the previous two.
  • Acholado (Half-breed), blended from the must of several varieties of grape. It is also quite strong and used to make Pisco Sour.

(Thank you, Wikipedia!)

Stay tuned, I will be uploading a video on my visit to the region as well as how to properly taste Pisco.