Brandy . It is a liquor originally made from grape skins. There are varieties that include the whole grape or other fruits, and these acquire their name from their origin or processing, it is considered a fine liquor to be drunk as a reduction. Brandy is a distilled alcoholic beverage produced by the distillation of wines; traditional brandy is made from grape wines, although there are also brandies made from other fruits and grape bagasse . This section presents documents related to the most important aspects to consider in the quality, composition and authenticity of brandy, as well as some economic studies on the production of fruit brandy.
[ hide ]
- 1 History
- 2 Production process
- 3 types
- 4 Classification
- 5 Sources
The word brandy came to use for its use in the English language, where it was not baptized either. The original word from which it derived as brandy is brandewijn, which in Dutch meant branden and wijn or translated ‘ barrel burned wine ‘; that was deforming in its pronunciation from brandewijn to brandwine and then to brandy. The original drink dates back to Italy in the 10th century , when a drink called acqua di vite (water of life) or arzente was prepared. From Italy it was taken by merchants to France, the country where they began to produce it as eau-de-vie (such a literal translation was rarely respected so much), and after the French influence on Moors, by the Moors to Spain. By this time, 4 centuries would have passed, and then yes, brandy or cognac would be a drink produced and consumed throughout Europe .
Brandy is obtained from cooking freshly fermented wine and condensing alcoholic vapors, once the water has been removed thanks to the distillation process. Brandy is made in almost all countries with wine production, and so that each brandy is different, the legislation allows to add macerations of fruit, oak fiber, almonds, vanilla and darken it with caramel. According to our legislation, brandy can only be obtained from distilled brandy from grape wine. In other countries it is also extracted from other fruits, thus receiving the distinctive brandy followed by the name of the fruit from which it comes, such as apple brandy or peach brandy. The distillation technique used is the same as for spirits in general, the first distillate is preferable because a large part of the essential principles of the wine remain in it, which constitutes an important base for the maturation stage.
Of the constituents that must ensure the minimum appearance in spirits, bases for the preparation of brandies are iron and methyl alcohol . The first, because it combines easily with tannin forming tannates that give brandy a greenish-gray hue and the second because of its harmfulness to the human body. The average distillate obtained must have a maximum alcohol content of 75 degrees, this is the base brandy for the preparation of brandy. Then the maturation process continues and it is here that the differences between the two systems are established: the French and the Jerezano or soleras. The French procedure consists of packing the freshly distilled brandy in oak wooden containers, big or small for some time. Then it is reduced with water to 44 alcoholic degrees, adding a little syrup and returning them to the cellars for their final maturation and subsequent sale.
The Spanish soleras procedure consists of lowering the recently distilled liquid with water up to the alcoholic strength of 44 degrees and storing them packed in oak wood containers in the form of graduated scales, in such a way that the oldest ones are located in the first scales and the most recent in the last. At the time of sale, the oldest are available, and the most recent ones take their place, and so on. This system allows the aeration of the liquid and therefore oxidationof its constituents, unlike the French system, which once packaged and stored are abandoned to the action of time. The hydroalcoholic liquid subjected to aging is accompanied by a certain amount of substances that constitute the essential principles of the drink. These substances are considered impurities. Among them we have alcohols, acids, ethers, esters, aldehydes, furfural, in addition to the coloring substances and resins transmitted by the container.
There is a marked difference between the two ripening systems exposed, in terms of the variation that these impurities may have. By the French system, the higher alcohols do not undergo major variations, the increase in furfural depends on what the wood can give it, while the ethers reach an equilibrium point due to the prolonged state of rest. Acids and aldehydes undergo marked increases over time. Coloring matters and resins also increase with old age. Due to the floor system, the higher alcohols increase or decrease as brands more or less rich in these alcohols are mixed when passing from one scale to another. The same situation occurs with furfural. The equilibrium point for the ethers is periodically broken due to the action of the mixtures, which leads to a permanent formation of this class of compounds. Acids and aldehydes may have no noticeable variation, it all depends on the amounts mixed between the brandies. Regarding the coloring matters and resins the same thing happens in the French system because their transfer depends on the age of the containers.
- The grapes are harvested and de-stemmed.
- The wine rests for a short time and goes on to distillationin copper stills .
- After distillation, the wine brandy goes on aging in oak barrels, which results in the brandy.
- When the brandy is well aged, it is bottled.
- Subsequently, the grapes are crushed and go through the horizontal presses to obtain the juice from them.
- In steel tanks, the juice is transformed into wine through fermentation.
Types of Brandy
The types of brandy vary depending on the country of origin and the raw material used by the producers of the different brands, however there is a general classification:
- Armagnac: It has a flavor similar to that of cognac. It can only be made in Bas Armagnac, Ténarèze and Haut Armanac.
- Brandy de Jerez: It comes from white wine, it is aged in barrels that were used precisely to ripen the sherry. According to various experts, sherry brandy is the original. Jerez brandy is divided into three types:
- Solera: Must be at least one year old, at rest.
- Solera reserva: It is aged for at least three years.
- Solera gran reserva: With ten years or more of aging.
- Italian Brandy: they are recognized as the most extravagant and exuberant. Italian brandies are the ones that use the most variants in terms of raw materials.
- Cognac: The supreme brandy is made mainly in France. It is obtained by distilling white wine and left to age in oak barrels, which gives it an amber color. The grapes for its elaboration must be Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanch and Colombard.
There are also other types of brandies no less important, such as those produced in Germany , Switzerland and the Netherlands .
- A “star”: from 2 to 5 years
- Two “stars”: from 3 to 9 years
- Three “stars”: from 10 to 15 years
- VO: Very old (very old): from 10 to 15 years.
- VOP: Very aged product 15 years
- VSOP: Superior product, very aged, 20 years
- VVSOP: Superior product very very aged, 25 years
- XO: Extraordinary aged, 30 years
- EXTRA: Extraordinary aged, 50 years