Written by Puff Staff

Friday, 23 March 2012

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brandybrandy recipe
wine and spirits

brandyleadNothing looks classier than a snifter of brandy, and nothing goes better with a good cigar. Despite its elegant appearance and reputation, the taste of brandy is warm and inviting, perfect for sharing with that special someone or a few friends as you gather around the fire for good conversation after dinner. Here are some fun facts about brandy and of the most appealing brandies in various price ranges.

So what is brandy? Basically, it’s distilled wine, meaning wine with most of the water removed. Brandy came to be because the soil of France’s Cognac region is chalky, which made the wine made from its grapes to be thin, acidic and less than drinkable. Fortunately, the area’s enterprising vintners discovered that this wine could be distilled into brandy varietals. Cognac is distilled from a combo of white wines known as “eaux de vie” before being aged to maturity for bottling and distribution.



Not all brandy is made from grapes. It can also be distilled from berries or other fruits, such as Kir from cherries and Slivovitz from plums. Some of the world’s most popular brandys are Applejack, an American apple brandy; Armagnac, the French brandy from Gers: Calvados, the French apple brandy, Cognac, the French brandy from Charente and Charente Maritime region and Marc, Bagaceira or Grappa, all of which are distilled from the grape pomace.

Enough of Brandy 101, let’s start talking about drinking some of it! Buying the right brandy for your tastes takes some experimentation, and tasting a few samples. Types of brandy you should consider to start with include Cognac, an aged brandy double-distilled near the French town of Cognac; Armagnac, single-distilled in the Southwest of France; Brandy de Jerez, similar to sherry and grape brandy, which can come from anywhere that grapes can be grown.



Those letters at the end of the names of some brandies have these meanings:
E is Especial, F is Fine, V is Very, O is Old, S is Superior, P is Pale, X is Extra and C is Cognac. For instance, Hennessy V.S.O.P. Cognac is Hennessy Very Superior Old Pale Cognac while Hennessy X.O. Cognac is Hennessy Extra Old Cognac.

If you’re a brandy novice, you might want to start with one of the less expensive brands that sell for less than $20 per bottle, but can let you find out if you have a taste for brandy without breaking the bank. Here’s a list of budget brandies to consider, along with approximate prices:

Henri Baron VSOP  ($10)
E & J VS  ($11)
Christian Bros. VS  ($11)
Jacques Cardin  ($10)
Raynal  ($15)
St. Remy VSOP Napoleon  ($14)
Monarch VS  ($10)

Moving up the scale a bit are moderately priced brandies that offer more variety:

Fundador  ($17) - Spanish
Metaxa 5-star  ($20) - Greek
Presidente  ($16) - Mexican
E & J VSOP  ($14) - USA
Christian Bros. VSOP  ($14) - USA
Korbel VSOP  ($14)  -  USA

When you’re ready to spend a little more, here are a few top-shelf brandies to consider:

Asbach Uralt  ($27) - German
Azteca de Oro  ($27)
Metaxa Amphora  ($27) - Greek
Don Pedro  ($20) - Mexican
Clear Creek  ($20) - USA



If you want to try the taste of Cognac, here are a few budget choices:

Martell V.S.  ($25)
Paul Luchene Cognac  ($16)
Salignac V.S. Cognac  ($18)
Monarch VS Cognac  ($18)

For a little more you can move up to these:

Courvoisier V.S.O.P.  ($40)
Courvoisier V.S.  ($30)
Hennessy V.S.O.P.  ($45)
Hennessy V.S.  ($30)
Remy Martin V.S.O.P.  ($40)
Remy Martin V.S. Grand Cru  ($30)
Martell V.S.O.P.  ($35)

Here are some top-shelf Cognacs, with prices to match:

Hennessy X.O.  ($125) 
Martell Cordon Bleu  ($110)
Meukow X.O.  ($100-120)
Remy Martin X.O.  ($140)
Remy Martin Louis XIII  ($1450-$1500)


0 # RE: Brandy is Dandysmokindave 2012-03-24 09:50
Very good article. I would add that Armagnac has certain health benefits (Google it!) and of course goes well with your fav cigar.

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