This is a distillate of wine which, in French-speaking countries, is more specifically referred to as a fine to distinguish it from fruit brandies, or alcools blancs. which are distilled from fruits. Brandy can be made wherever wine is made but, as it can also be made from other things than the fermented juice of the grape, a reputable wine merchant will usually label it according to whether it is ‘grape brandy’, or has the prefix of a country’s name. In every country making grape brandy there will be a difference in the spirit, and also the different brandy establishments will have their own styles, as well as a range of different qualities. The supreme brandy of the world, however, is indisputably Cognac, which can only come from the delimited area in the Charente region of France, although versions of its name, sounding similar. even if spelled differently, are made in many countries. The other great brandy is Armagnac.
There are different sorts of regional brandies in France, including a vast range of fruit brandies.The New World brandies are of enormous importance too. The establishments that make quality brandies distilled from wine usually make at least one type that is intended as an ingredient in a mixed drink, and another of superior quality, intended for drinking by itself. The latter type is usually drunk as a digestive. It is worth noting that the use of the huge balloon glass and the heating of the glass over a flame are practices deplored by all who make the good brandies of the world and everyone who knows anything about the way they should be served. A brandy glass should not be larger than the hands can hold easily and the heat of the cupped palms alone should gently warm the spirit in the glass. If the glass is heated, the aroma is thrown off before the drinker can begin to enjoy it, and only a spirity smell and taste remain. The drinker may scorch his hands into the bargain! If a very large glass is used, the delicacy of the bouquet can be appreciated only with difficulty and may indeed be prevented from giving pleasure because of being dissipated in the goldfish-bowl receptacle. The colour of brandy is not usually a sure guide to its quality, but the smell and the way the spirit slides down the glass are: if you want to know what a brandy is really like, put a little on your palm (if you haven’t used scented soap or hand lotion) and sniff it when the spirit has evaporated. After the brandy has been drunk, sniff the empty glass – and note whether there is any trace of it on the sides of the glass. In this way, it is possible to detect any additional sweetening or flavouring, as of caramel; and 10 see, from the glass, if the spirit clings or simply slides off.
Brandewijn, Brandy wine
This latter term came into the English language in the 17th century. It was assumed by many who then used it to mean ‘burnt wine’, hence brandy, the distillate of wine. But, although in Holland the term brandewijn means a distillate, the base of this need not be a spirit resulting from the distillation of wine at all. The old use of’ brandy wine’ was probably a general imprecise term, meaning any sort of spirit that was not gin (which would have been referred to as ‘Hollands’).