Today’s post is dedicated to Mirto, one of my favorite Italian digestivos. On Sundays I try to write about beverages that I like that aren’t wine. Whenever I’m in an Italian restaurant and they offer Grappa, Limoncello or Amaro after dinner, I ask if they have Mirto. Many places do and many do not, I’m talking about in Italy. I don’t think the Mirto phase has caught on in the United States yet, but it will. When it does, this will be the premier brand that people know about. It’s almost synonymous with Mirto, its so widely available in Italy. I’m talking about Zedda Piras, the brand pictured above.
Zedda Piras is part of the Campari Group. Founded in 1854 by Francesco Zedda, it used to be part of the Sella & Mosca group from Sardegna and was eventually bought by the Gruppo Campari.
Ruby red in color with violet on the rim, Mirto has a very particular taste, first sweet and then bitter with berries, herbaceous notes such as juniper and eucalptus, dried fruit and sweet spice. It’s a very complex and layered taste.
Many families make their own version of Mirto. Made from the Myrtus communis plant which grows all over Sardegna and Corsica, Mirto is generally made by infusing the berries in high proof neutral-grain alcohol for a long period. Then the two are separated and the berries are pressed. The final step is to add sugar, honey or syrup a to the mix.
Mirto comes in both rosso and bianco versions but I have only tried the rosso. The bianco is made from white berries and sometimes the young leaves of the plant. Next time I’m in Italy, maybe I will try Mirto bianco. I first visited Sardegna in the 1990s when I disocvered Mirto. In 2001 I spent three weeks there and my most recent visit was 2015 thanks to a great wine producer, Vigne Surrau. The island has a very special place in my heart for various reasons and I can’t wait till my next trip.