Why engraved brandy glasses are perfect for any brandy

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Brandy – a liqueur made through several distillations of grape-based or fruit-based wine – has been a popular beverage since the 15th Century. Brandy acquires its name from the Dutch ‘brandewijn’, which means ‘burned wine’, and is loved the world over.

Originally thought to have been created in order to circumvent tax laws that measured alcohol by the volume rather than the proof, the effect of storing distilled wine in barrels was discovered to accord a honey-coloured hue to the liqueur. In Europe, France and Spain have historically dominated brandy-production, but brandies from Georgia and Bulgaria are also very popular. In the United States, the state of California currently produces American brandy, which is distinguished from European brandies by being subject to fewer production regulations.

Get to grips with the names and the ages

There are many different types of brandy – Armagnac, Cognac, Calvados, Pisco – and they are ranked by age. Armagnac and Cognac are named after the regions in France in which they are distilled. Calvados is also a French brandy, but is made by distilling apple wine. In the United States, it is called applejack. Pisco is a South American variant of brandy made in Peru and Chile. It is not distilled in oak barrels, and so is perfectly clear.

Brandy marked VS (Very Special) will be about two years old, whereas brandies marked VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) will be at least four years old, and often much older. XO (Extra Old) can be around 20 years old. Some brandies are even older than this (hors d’age). Generally, the older the brandy, the more complex the flavour.

Drinking your brandy

In order to get the most out of your brandy, you ought to pay special attention to the way in which you drink it. Brandy is best enjoyed at room temperature, and unlike wine, it does not need to breathe first. Brandy is usually consumed neat – without ice – and served in a wide-bottomed wine glass or a balloon-shaped snifter. A snifter can take the form of a beautiful engraved brandy glass with a short stem and wide base.

Swirling the brandy around the base of the glass to extract the best of the aromas, and warming it by holding it in your hand, you will be able to taste the brandy at its best. Most balloon-shaped, engraved brandy glasses are designed so that even if you lay them on their side, they will still hold the brandy without spilling.

Stylish cocktails

Brandy is also used to make a number of cocktails. Usually immature or less expensive brandies are used for these. The classic cosmopolitan, side-car, and corpse reviver are firm favourites among brandy aficionados. For an interesting combination, you could try the B & B – brandy and Benedictine (a herbal liqueur) – which is a great way to enjoy more established and complex brandies. You can even sup this one in your snifter, as it is meant to be enjoyed slowly, perhaps after a meal, and always in great company.

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