Brandy (short for brandywine, from Dutch brandewijn—'burnt 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. Brandy made from wine is generally colored with caramel coloring to imitate the effect of long aging in wooden casks; pomace and fruit brandies are generally drunk unaged, and are not usually colored.Initially wine was distilled as a preservation method and as a way to make the wine easier for merchants to transport. It was also thought that wine was originally distilled to lessen the tax which was assessed by volume. The intent was to add the water removed by distillation back to the brandy shortly before consumption. It was discovered that after having been stored in wooden casks, the resulting product had improved over the original distilled spirit.
The origins of brandy are clear, and tied to the development of distillation. Concentrated alcoholic beverages were known in ancient Greece and Rome and may have a history going back to ancient Babylon. Brandy as it is known today first began to appear in the 12th century and became generally popular in the 14th century.
In addition to removing water, the distillation process leads to the formation and break-up of numerous aroma compounds, fundamentally altering the composition of the distillate from its source. Non-volatile substances such as pigments, sugars and salts, remain behind in the still. As a result, the taste of the distillate may be quite unlike that of the original source.
TYPES OF BRANDY
There are three primary types of brandy. The term "brandy" denotes grape brandy if the type is not otherwise specified.
Grape brandy is produced by the distillation of fermented grape juice.
American grape brandy is almost always from California. Popular brands include Christian Brothers, Coronet, E&J, Korbel, and Paul Masson.
Armagnac is made from grapes of the Armagnac region in Southwest of France (Gers, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne). It is single-continuous distilled in a copper still and aged in oak casks from Gascony or Limousin. Armagnac was the first distilled spirit in France. Armagnacs have a specificity: they offer vintage qualities. Popular brands are Darroze, Baron de Sigognac, Larressingle, Delord, Laubade, Gélas and Janneau.
Brandy de Jerez is the brandy from the area of Jerez. As such it is an essential ingredient to Sherry, but it is also available separately. Like Sherry and Cognac it is a protected Denomination of Origin.
Cognac comes from the Cognac region in France, and is double distilled using pot stills. Popular brands include Hine, Martell, Rémy Martin, Hennessy, Ragnaud-Sabourin, Delamain and Courvoisier.
Lourinhã, located in western Portugal's Estremadura region, is one of the few brandy-making areas to receive appellation status along with Cognac and Armagnac.
South African South African grape brandies are, by law, made almost exactly as in Cognac, using a double-distillation process in copper pot stills followed by aging in oak barrels for a minimum of three years. Because of this, South African brandies are of a very high quality.
Other grape brandies: Brandies are also produced in several other countries, including Portugal where it is called aguardente (burning water), Mexico, Germany, Greece, Georgia, Armenia, Moldova Cyprus. 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. Since these are considered protected Denominations of Origin, they cannot be considered as "types" of brandy.
Martell Cognac served in a typical brandy snifter.Grape brandies are best drunk from a tulip-shaped glass or a snifter, at cool room temperature. Often it is slightly warmed, by holding the glass in the cup of the palm or gently heating with a candle; however, such heating 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 (61°F). 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.
Pomace brandy is produced from fermented grape pulp, seeds, and stems that remain after the grapes are pressed for their juice. Examples include the Italian grappa and the French marc.
Fruit brandies are distilled from fruits other than grapes. Apple, plum, peach, cherry, raspberry, blackberry, and apricot are the most commonly used fruit. Fruit brandy is usually clear, 80 to 90 proof, and usually drunk chilled or over ice.
Calvados is an apple brandy from the French region of Lower Normandy. Apple is pressed into cider, fermented with yeast and double distilled.
Cherry Brandy is a fruit brandy made from cherries. The most famous brand is the HEERING Cherry Liqueur (also known as Peter Heering or Cherry Heering) of Denmark founded in 1818. Cherries are pressed into a must, matured in oak casks and then blended into a liqueur. HEERING Cherry Liqueur is the original "cherry brandy" ingredient in the Singapore Sling drink from Raffles Hotel, Singapore.
Eau-de-vie is a general French term for fruit brandy.
Kirschwasser is a fruit brandy made from cherries.
Pálinka is a fruit brandy traditional to Hungary. It can be made from any kind of fruit - most often plum (szilva), apricot (barack), grape (törköly), elderberry (bodza), pear (vilmoskörte) and cherry (cseresznye). Less common pálinka-types include apple, peach and even walnut (dió). Mixed pálinka (vegyes) is also popular.
Slivovitz is a fruit brandy made from plums, traditional to Bosnia And Herzegovina,Serbia and Croatia.
Slivovice is a strong 70% vol. (and more) fruit brandy made from plums, in Slovakia, the East mountains of the Czech republic (region Valachia - exactly Vizovice) and Southern mountain region of Poland.
Certain varieties of Schnapps or Snaps, light-bodied spirits that are drunk along with a meal in Germanic or Scandinavian countries.
Tuica (tzuika) is the clear Romanian brandy, made mainly from plums, apples, pears, apricots, mulberries, peaches, quinces or mixes of them. Other regional names as turt, tura, horinca apply. As wine producers, Romania and Moldova have also a production of cognac-style brandy, named vinars or divin.