The word “brandy comes” from a Dutch word meaning “burnt wine”. As we may guess from its name, Brandy is derived from wine. Each brandy brand has it’s own geographical, production, and product profile according to different factors including the base wine (made from an early grape to achieve a higher acidity and lower sugar levels), the ageing process, colouring compounds, distillation process, region, and much more options.
Usually, Brandies are aged in oak casks and after a period of ageing mature brandy is mixed with distilled water to reduce the concentration of alcohol, and then it is bottled. There are such grading systems of Brandies that are always noted on the labels:
- VS which means very special, and also called 3 stars. It has to be stored at least 2 years in a cask;
- VSOP is a very superior old pale or 5 stars. The spirits have to be stored at least 4 years before being bottled;
- XO means Extra Old, it is also called Napoleon Style, and this one has to be aged at least 6 years;
- Hors d'âge or Beyond the age. These brandies are aged for at least 10 years.
There are three main categories of Brandy, which are following this grading system:
Cognac is a type of Brandy which is made in the French region Cognac. It must be distilled in pot stills and aged at least for 2 years in french old barrels.
Armagnac comes from the Armagnac region of France and this is the oldest type of brandy distilled in France dating back to the early 14th century. Armagnac is slightly different from cognac as it is distilled once in column stills.
Calvados is an outstanding style of brandy made mainly from apples and pears. Calvados is produced in the Normandy region of France.
How To Drink Brandy
There are a few rules about how to drink brandy properly:
- Brandy is usually served at room temperature in special tulip or snifter glasses.
- You need to hold this glass with your palm and hold it for a while so that your body heat warmed it up a little bit.
- Take small sips and enjoy the spirit. Let it roll around your tongue before you swallow it.
- Sniff it carefully. Don’t put it too close to your nose, because this spirit really can damage your sense of smell.
- Drink it neat. Good old Brandy must be solo. No ice, lemon, and other pairings because they will destroy the exclusive taste of the spirit.
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