Brandy may be served neat or on the rocks. It is added to other beverages to make several popular cocktails; these include the Brandy Alexander, the Sidecar, the Brandy Sour, and the Brandy Old Fashioned.
Brandy is traditionally drunk neat at room temperature in western countries from a snifter or a tulip glass. In parts of Asia, it is usually drunk on the rocks. When drunk at room temperature, it is often slightly warmed by holding the glass cupped in the palm or by gently heating it. However, excessive heating of brandy may cause the alcohol vapour to become too strong, to the extent that its aroma can become overpowering. Brandy connoisseurs will ask for the glass to be warmed before the Brandy is added, this causes the aroma to be strong without having to hold the glass, and the flavour to be maximised.
Brandy has a more pleasant aroma at a lower temperature, e.g., 16 °C (61 °F). In most homes, this would imply that brandy should be cooled rather than heated for maximum enjoyment. Furthermore, alcohol (which makes up 40% of a typical brandy) becomes thin when it is heated (and more viscous when cooled). Thus, cool brandy produces a fuller and smoother mouthfeel and less of a "burning" sensation.
The origins of brandy are clearly tied to the development of distillation. Concentrated alcoholic beverages were known in ancient Greece and Rome. Brandy, as it is known today, first began to appear in the 12th century and became generally popular in the 14th century.
Initially wine was distilled as a preservation method and as a way to make the wine easier for merchants to transport. It was also thought that wine was originally distilled to lessen the tax which was assessed by volume. The intent was to add the water removed by distillation back to the brandy shortly before consumption. It was discovered that after having been stored in wooden casks, the resulting product had improved over the original distilled spirit. In addition to removing water, the distillation process leads to the formation and decomposition of numerous aroma compounds, fundamentally altering the composition of the distillate from its source. Non-volatile substances such as pigments, sugars, and salts remain behind in the still. As a result, the taste of the distillate may be quite unlike that of the original source.
As described in the 1728 edition of Cyclopaedia, the following method was used to distil brandy:
Terminology and legal definitions
If a beverage comes from a particular fruit (or multiple fruits) other than exclusively grapes, or from the must of such fruit, it may be referred to as a "fruit brandy" or "fruit spirit" or using the name of a fruit, such as "peach brandy", rather than just generically as "brandy". If pomace is the raw material, the beverage may be called "pomace brandy", "marc brandy", "grape marc", "fruit marc spirit", or "grape marc spirit". Grape pomace brandy may be designated as "grappa" or "grappa brandy". Apple brandy may be referred to as "applejack". There is also a product called "grain brandy" that is made from grain spirits.
Within particular jurisdictions, there are specific regulatory requirements regarding the labelling of products identified as brandy. For example:
There are three main types of brandy. The term "brandy" denotes grape brandy if the type is not otherwise specified.
Grape brandy is produced by the distillation of fermented grapes.
Pomace brandy (also called marc in both English and French) is produced by fermentation and distillation of the grape skins, seeds, and stems that remain after grapes have been pressed to extract their juice (which is then used to make wine). Most pomace brandies are neither aged nor coloured.
Examples of pomace brandy are:
A batch distillation typically works as follows:
Wine with an alcohol concentration of 8% to 12% ABV and high acidity is boiled in a pot still. Vapours of alcohol, water, and numerous aromatic components rise and are collected in a condenser coil, where they become a liquid again. Because alcohol and the aromatic components vaporise at a lower temperature than water, the concentration of alcohol in the condensed liquid (the distillate) is higher than in the original wine.
After one distillation, the distillate, called "low wine," will contain roughly 30% alcohol (ethanol) by volume. The low wine is then distilled a second time. The first 1% or so of distillate that is produced, called the "head," has an alcohol concentration of about 83% and an unpleasant odour, so it is discarded (generally, mixed with another batch of low wine, thereby entering the distillation cycle again). The distillation process continues, yielding a distillate of approximately 70% alcohol (called the "heart"), which is what will be consumed as brandy. The portion of low wine that remains after distillation, called the "tail," will be mixed into another batch of low wine (so that the tail enters the distillation cycle again, as does the head).
Distillation does not simply enhance the alcohol content of wine. The heat under which the product is distilled and the material of the still (usually copper) cause chemical reactions to take place during distillation. This leads to the formation of numerous new volatile aroma components, changes in relative amounts of aroma components in the wine, and the hydrolysis of components such as esters.
Brandy is produced using one of three aging methods:
Pot stills vs. tower stills
Cognac and South African pot still brandy are examples of brandy produced in batches using pot stills (batch distillation). Many American brandies use fractional distillation in tower stills to perform their distillation.
Special pot stills with a fractionating section on top are used for Armagnac.
Retrieved from : http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Brandy&oldid=464653114#Fruit_brandy