Brandy is a wine like any other, but with one difference, it has been burnt or boiled. In fact, its literal translation from Dutch means burnt wine.
Brandy has not always been used for drinking purposes. Instead it was first used for its medicinal applications.
In the 7th or the 8th century, the Arabs first began using it for medicinal purposes.
The drinking of Brandy began around the 14th century in Europe and came to America sometime in the 18th century.
The Irish improved on the distillation process in the 19th century and today, you can find Brandy in nearly every country in the world.
There are different types of Brandy but all the types are made from one of three basic ingredients. One type is made from Grapes, one is made from Pomace or the solid parts of fruit that has been pressed and the third ingredient is Fermented Fruit Juice.
Once you have the main ingredient you want to use, the distilling and aging process varies depending on the whims of the brandy creator’s recipe.
Cognac is the most popular type, as well as the highest in quality from all the types available. It is named after the French town where it was first created and has an aging process of 2 years in barrels made of oak. This type of Brandy is best served neat (untainted by any other ingredients).
Armagnac is also named after a French province and was the first type of Brandy to be distilled in France. Again, this type is aged in oak barrels and is a grape brandy. Generally, people enjoy this Brandy as an aperitif.
Calvados is also from France, Normandy to be exact. This is an interesting Brandy made from apples. The apples are chosen to have a blend of both tart and a sweet taste. This can be enjoyed as either an aperitif or a digestive (after dinner).
Another type is Eau de Vie again from France. It is a colorless fruity Brandy and is served chilled unlike other types. It keeps the taste of the original fruit and has been served in Europe for hundreds of years now. This is generally used for its digestive properties and is taken after gourmet meals.
As you can see, there are many types of Brandy and it has a relatively rich history. Brandy has been enjoyed by royalty and commoners and it will continue to be enjoyed for years to come.