The word Brandy originates from brandewijn meaning burnt wine, Its origins date back to the 14th century when merchants and explorers would distil the wine as a means to prevent it turning sour whilst travelling. It was during this time when producers discovered that ageing and storing the spirit in cask softened and developed the taste as well as altering the colour. Brandy is produced by the crushing of grapes and fermentation of that liquid into a wine alcohol. Brandy is usually created from wines that have high acidity and normally too bitter and unsuitable to be consumed as wine.
This wine alcohol is then distilled until it reaches a high strength clear alcohol between 59 - 75% ABV. It is at this point aged in oak casks before being blended. Within the EU the definition of Brandy is distilled from grapes and aged in oak casks for a minimum of 6 months. Where fruit other than Grapes have been used to distil spirit these are referred to as to by specific names such as Calvados, fruit Brandy, Grappa or Eau de Vie.
There are no geographical restrictions to where brandy can be produced but as the majority is produced from grapes the major production regions are where viniculture was already established. The key producing countries are France and Spain but there are many other countries like Germany, Georgia, Greece, South Africa and USA. There are however, sub categories within Brandy which do have geographical protection along with strict criteria on production. The best known of these areas would be: Cognac Armagnac Brandy de Jerez
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