Brandy

Brandy is produced by distilling wine.The wine can be made from other fruits, but when made from grapes, white wines are used as the base. The most well known brandy is Cognac, made from the Cognac district of France. In the United States, brandy must conform to a standard of identity that describes the starting fruit or juice, the ethanol concentration, the duration of aging, and other compositional and manufacturing details. Most American beverage-type brandies contain less than 50% ethanol (100° proof). In contrast, brandy used for fortification purposes usually contains 70% to 95% ethanol (140° proof to 190° proof). Due to evaporation, long aging can substantially reduce the ethanol concentration.

In general, the base wine production follows that for other white wines. Skins and seeds are removed immediately after crushing and pressing to minimize pigment extraction. Distillation can occur as soon as the wine is fermented. Two types of distillers or stills are used, pot stills and continuous stills. The pot still, used for Cognac, consist of a single pot or boiler that is directly heated. A portion of the vapor is condensed in a reflux condenser and returned to the boiler, and the remaining vapor condenses and is collected. After distillation, the brandy is aged in oak barrels, which results in extraction of oak flavor, aroma, and color compounds. Most American brandies are aged for two to three years; however, some Cognacs and other premium brandies are aged for more than twenty years.

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