Brandy is a distilled wine that has been boiled or “burnt,” as the Dutch would call it. In fact, the Dutch translation for brandy, brandewijn, literally translates to “burnt wine.”
How Brandy is Made
Types of Brandy
- Armagnac, named after a French province, is the oldest brandy known to France and is commonly known as the best quality brandy – second only to Cognac. Aged in oak casks that are local to the region in which it is made, this grape brandy is best enjoyed as an accompaniment to dessert or a leisurely after-dinner cigar.
- Calvados is an apple-flavored fruit brandy from Normandy, France. The apples this brandy is made of are carefully selected to create a perfect combinaton of sweet and tart tastes. Calvados can be served as an aperitif to rouse the appetite, in between meals or after dinner as a digestif.
- Cognac is a French grape brandy named after its town of origin in France. Cognac is known as the highest quality of brandy, as it is distilled twice using copper stills and aged a minimum of two years in oak barrels. This process gives it a mature, mellowed flavor meant to be enjoyed unadulterated by any type of mixture.
- Eau de Vie is the French term for a colorless fruit brandy that is, unlike other types of brandy, served chilled. With the original fruit taste intensely preserved, it has been used for hundreds of years in Europe as an after-dinner digestif, or digestive aid.
- Flavored Brandies are fruit brandies that have had sugar and food coloring added to them. Peach brandy, cherry brandy and apricot brandy are a few examples. This type of brandy is mostly used in mixed drinks.
- Palinka is a Hungarian or Romanian fruit brandy that can be made from apples, pears, plums, apricots and/or cherries. This type of brandy has a cruder taste than most and is usually drunk straight up, as a shot.
Preparing and Drinking Brandy
- Hold the snifter in your palm, allowing your hand to warm the temperature of the brandy.
- Bring the snifter up to chin-level, and take a few shallow breaths through the nose, sniffing the “bouquet.”
- When sipping, take a few drops and hold it on your tongue – this allows you to taste the attitudes of the brandy without being overwhelmed by the taste of the alcohol.