Anglias Brandy Cognac Spirits from Beers of Europe.
Brandy is the name used for a wide range of potable spirits, made mostly from grape wines but sometimes also from other fruits (for fruit brandies see Eaux-de-Vie). The name brandy is a shortened form of brandywine, which an anglicized form of Dutch brandewijn, which means 'burnt wine'.
This is precisely what brandy is. To make brandy, wine is heated in a still until it separates into its components, which evaporate at various points on the temperature scale. The more volatile the component, the lower the temperature at which it evaporates, leaving behind the impurities and heavier compounds. This is the process used to turn wine into brandy.
In part, the development of brandy can be attributed to customs and excise taxes. In the days when alcohol sales were taxed by volume, without regard for alcoholic strength, expedient wine merchants sought out ways to reduce the amount they paid. By distilling their wine down they not only made it easier to transport, but paid less tax on it. The distilled wine could then be brought back to its original volume at the end destination simply by adding water. The challenges of transportation have been responsible for several of the world's most interesting wines, among them Madeira, Port and Champagne.
Like wine and whisky, brandy is often aged in wooden barrels, which increases its complexity and color intensity. The attractive amber hue of aged brandy is often replicated in unaged brandy through the use of soluble food colorings such as caramel color (additive number E150). The length of aging and the type of barrel used are both important elements in determining the qualities of the brandy inside.
In Cognac and Armagnac, southwest France, brandy production has been taken seriously for centuries. Both of these areas have protected appellations for the brandy they make, and legally regulated labeling terms are used to communicate the length of time a brandy has spent in barrel. VS (Very Special) denotes that a Cognac has spent a minimum of two years in cask, while VSOP (Very Special Old Pale) requires at least four years. XO is the finest grade, and is reserved exclusively for those cuvees aged for six years or more. 'Hors d'Age', although unofficial, is also used to mark Cognacs which have exceeded even the most demanding barrel ageing regimes.
Being a carefully manufactured product with specific organoleptic properties, brandy is consumed neat more often than many other spirits. It can be consumed either at room temperature or chilled with ice; the finer the brandy the more likely it is to be consumed neat. When mixed, brandy is most often accompanied by ginger ale. As a cocktail ingredient it plays a part in the Brandy Alexander (Cognac and creme de cacao) and the Sidecar (Cognac, triple sec, lemon juice).
Italy's most famous strong alcohol, grappa, straddles the accepted definitions of eau-de-vie and brandy, as some are aged in barrel, while others are not. (See Grappa di Toscana.)
Food matches for brandy:
Europe: Brandy-flamed christmas pudding; Stilton and crackers
Asia: Prawn nigiri with Japanese mayonnaise
Australasia/Ocenia: Mushroom and marscapone risotto; hazelnut macarons with brandy cream
Africa/Middle East: Ulusu Lwenkomo (South African ox tripe)
Published by Wine-Searcher.com | Last updated 02-Sep-2013 by
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