Brandy

Brandy (short for brandywine, from Dutch brandewijn—fire wine) is a general term for distilled wine, usually 40–60% ethyl alcohol by volume. In addition to wine, this spirit can also be made from grape pomace or fermented fruit juice. Unless specified otherwise, brandy is made from grape wine. It is normally consumed as an after-dinner drink.

There are three primary types of brandy. Grape brandy is the type that is meant if brandy is used by itself. Grape brandy Grape brandy is produced by the distillation of fermented grape juice. There are four main subtypes of grape brandies.

Grape brandies from other countries such as South Africa, Spain, Mexico etc. South African grape brandies are, by law, made almost exactly as in Cognac, using a double-distillation process in copper pot stills followed by ageing in oak barrels for a minimum of three years. American grape brandy is almost always from California, and lighter colored, but stronger tasting than European brandies.

Grape brandies are arguably best drunk in a tulip shaped glass or a snifter, at room temperature or slightly warmed, by holding the glass in the cup of the palm or gently heating with a candle. However, heating it causes alcohol vapor to become very pungent so that the aromas are overpowered. Brandy, like whisky and red wine, exhibits more pleasant aromas and flavors at a lower temperature, e.g., 16 degrees Celsius. In most homes, this would imply that the brandy should in fact rather be cooled for maximum enjoyment. Furthermore, alcohol (which makes up 40% of a typical brandy) becomes thin as it is heated, but more viscous when cooled leading to a fuller and smoother mouthfeel with less of a burning sensation. The European Union legally enforces Cognac as the exclusive name for brandy produced and distilled in the Cognac area of France, and Armagnac from the Gascony area of France, using traditional techniques.

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