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Ratafia from Catalonia
Ratafià di Andorno (Italy)

Ratafia is a term used for two types of sweet alcoholic beverage, either a fortified wine or a fruit-based beverage. The latter type is a liqueur or cordial flavoured with lemon peel, herbs in various amounts (nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, mint, rosemary, anise, etc.) typically combined with sugar. It may also be prepared with peach or cherry kernels, bitter almonds, or other fruits, as many different varieties are made. The same name is given to a flavouring essence resembling bitter almonds, and also to a light biscuit. The former type is a type of mistelle, a mixture of marc brandy and the unfermented juice of the grape, and it is the type of Ratafia produced in France.

The flavorings can potentially make this liqueur toxic,[citation needed] as peach and cherry kernels contain high levels of a common cyanogenic glucoside, called amygdalin, (about 1.7 mg per gram of kernel), as do bitter almonds (2.5 mg/g).[1]

In the south-central region of Italy (specifically Molise and Abruzzo) Ratafià is made exclusively with fresh cherries and Montepulciano Di Abruzzo wines.

Other less toxic flavorings can also be used, such as in-season fruit, vegetables, and fresh herbs. A basic recipe includes a bottle of red or white wine, 1/4 cup vodka (to prevent fermentation), 1 cup cut-up fruits, vegetables, or herbs, 1/4 cup sugar. Combine all ingredients in a large jar and refrigerate 3 to 4 weeks; strain into a clean wine bottle and cork or cap tightly. Keep refrigerated.[2]

The liqueur is typical of the Mediterranean areas of Spain, Italy, and north-east of France (Champagne and Burgundy).


  1. ^ FAO Meeting Report No. PL/1965/10/2 WHO/Food Add/28.65, http://www.inchem.org/documents/jmpr/jmpmono/v65apr09.htm
  2. ^ New York Times, Dining Out p. F7, by Pete Wells from Monica Pope recipe, Aug 29, 2007 http://www.newyorktimes.com/