A Story about Brandy

Published: 03rd September 2006
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The origins of brandy are unclear and are closely related to the development of distillation. Brandy as known today first appeared in the 12th century and was becoming quite popular during the 14th century. At first, wine was distilled in order to preserve it primarily as a way to make the wine easier for merchants to transport long distances. Also, wine was originally distilled to lessen the tax which was imposed by volume. The point was to add back the water which was removed by distillation back into the brandy before consumption. Soon it was discovered that the brandy stored in wooden casks for a period was actually improved over the original brandy.

Grape brandy is produced by the distillation of fermented grape juice. There are some name differences between brandy from different parts of Europe and brandy from USA.

Brandy made in Cognac region in France is called Cognac and is double distilled using pot stills. Brandy made outside of this region cannot be called cognac, simply brandy. Today's most famous brands are: Martell, Remy Martin, Hennessy, Ragnaud-Sabourin, Delamain and Courvoisier.

Brandy made in the Armagnac region in Southwest of France is called Armagnac. It is single continuous distilled in a copper stills and aged in oak casks from Gascony or Limousin. Brandy from armagnac was the first distilled brandy in France. Armagnacs are different from other brandy as they offer vintage quality. As with the Congac, Armagnacs made outside the region of Armagnac cannot be called Armagnac, simply brandy. The most popular brands are Darroze, Baron de Sigognac, Larressingle, Delord, Laubade, Gélas and Janneau.

Brandy from other countries such as South Africa, Spain, Mexico etc. It is noteworthy to point out that South African grape brandy are by law made exactly as in the Cognac region of France. They use the double-distillation method in copper pot stills and later are aged in oak barrels for at least three years.

Brandy from America is almost always from the state of California. Grape brandy are actually best drunk in a tulip shaped glass at room temperature. Sometimes its warmed slightly by heating the glass with a candle. But the heating process causes the alcohol vapor to become very pungent and the aromas come out too strong. Brandy, hass more pleasant aromas and flavors at a lower temperature such as 16º C. That is, most of the time, brandy is cooled in a refrigerator for maximum enjoyment. Furthermore, alcohol (which makes up 40% of a typical brandy) is thinned when its heated, but becomes more viscous when cooled leading to a smoother taste with less burning sensation.

David Richards is a long time spirit enthusiast. He has a site called Products from Spain.net where many different kinds of beverages are available.

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