Brandy (from brandywine, derived from Dutch brandewijn, "gebrande wijn" "burned wine") is a spirit produced by distilling wine. Brandy generally contains 3560% alcohol by volume (70120 US proof) and is typically taken as an after-dinner drink. Some brandies are aged in wooden casks, some are coloured with caramel colouring to imitate the effect of aging, and some brandies are produced using a combination of both aging and colouring.
In broader sense, the term "brandy" also denotes liquors obtained from distillation of pomace (pomace brandy) or mash or wine of any other fruit (fruit brandy).These products are also named eaux-de-vie.
Varieties of wine brandy can be found across the winemaking world. Among the most renowned are Cognac and Armagnac from Southwestern France.
Varieties and brands
- Brandy de Jerez in barrels aging
- Most of American grape brandy production is situated in California. Popular brands include Christian Brothers, E&J Gallo and Korbel.
- Armenian brandy has been produced since the 1880s and comes from the Ararat plain in the southern part of Armenia. Bottles on the market are aged anywhere from 3 to 20 years.
- Armagnac is made from grapes of the Armagnac region in the southwest of France, Gers, Landes and Lot-et-Garonne. It is single-continuous distilled in a copper still and aged in oak casks from Gascony or Limousin or from the renowned Tronçais Forest in Auvergne. Armagnac was the first distilled spirit in France. Its usage was first mentioned in 1310 by Vital Du Four in a book of medicine recipes. Armagnacs have a specificity: they offer vintage qualities. Popular brands are Darroze, Baron de Sigognac, Larressingle, Delord, Laubade, Gélas and Janneau.
- Cognac comes from the Cognac region of France, and is double distilled using pot stills. Popular brands include Hine, Martell, Camus, Otard, Rémy Martin, Hennessy, Frapin, Delamain and Courvoisier.
- Cyprus brandy differs from other varieties in that its alcohol concentration is only 32% ABV (64 US proof).
- Greek brandy is distilled from Muscat wine. Mature distillates are made from sun-dried Savatiano, Sultana and Black Corinth grape varieties blended with an aged Muscat wine.
- Brandy de Jerez originates from vineyards around Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia, Spain. It is used in some sherries and is also available as a separate product. It has a protected designation of origin (PDO).
- Kanyak (or konyak) is a variety from Turkey whose name is a variation of "cognac" and also means "burn blood" in Turkish, a reference to its use in cold weather.
- Pisco is a strong, colourless to amber-coloured brandy produced in specific regions of Chile and Peru. The name Pisco derives from the Peruvian port of the same name. Pisco is still made in Peru and Chile but the right to produce and market it is subject to disputes between both countries.
- South African brandies are, by law, made almost exactly as 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 a very high quality.
- Italian Stravecchio has been produced since the 1700s in the North of Italy, especially in Emilia-Romagna and Veneto, using grapes popular in winemaking such as Sangiovese and Grignolino. Colour, texture and finish are most resembling those of their French and Spanish counterparts. Most popular brands are Vecchia Romagna, Stravecchio Branca and Stock 84. Northern Italy is also noted since the Middle Ages for another type of wine spirit, Grappa, which is generally colourless but has some top-shelf varieties called barrique which are aged in oak casks and achieve the same caramel colour as regular brandies. There is a vast production of Stravecchios and Grappas in Italy, with more than 600 large, medium or small distilleries in operation. Ticino is also allowed to produce pomace brandy under the name of Grappa.