Why is brandy going away? - Printable Version

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- robr - 02-04-2006 11:06 AM

When I was a kid in hs and college, I was a great reader of 19th century novels. In them, characters were always drinking brandy. Even in my parents generation I remember brandy as an important adult beverage. There were even mixed drinks that were made with it (the Brandy Manhattan). Now I seem to never hear about it.

Any ideas why it's not so popular any more? Also, what is it? Is the word "brandy" a kind of generic for any fortified wine based liquor?

- Bucko - 02-04-2006 04:37 PM

From cognacnet:

Brandy is a distilled wine. The word brandy originated from "brandewijn" which means "burnt wine" in Dutch.

There are three basic types of brandy:

Grape brandy (eau-de-vie de vin)

Pomace brandy (eau de vie de marc)

Fruits brandy (eau-de-vie de fruits).

Brandy without a source identified means that it is a grape product. It is distilled around the world. All other brandies must have a source identified.

Among the popular brandies of the world 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

Marc, Bagaceira or Grappa are distilled from the grape pomace.

Cognac is pretty much all I drink (spirit-wise), usually an XO from Remy Martin or Hennessy.

- Thomas - 02-04-2006 04:53 PM

In purists terms, brandy is always produced from a fruit. But a great deal of brandy used as a fortification is produced these days from grain.

Distillation may go back to China 1,000 BC. The modern pot still method was perfecetd by Arab Moors in the 12th or 13th century.

Distilled fruit drinks used to be used as truth serum, to get enemies to talk. And its main use in Europe before the late Middle Ages was as a means to preserve dead bodies and to do science experiments, as well as to inlcude in medicines.

At my home, a good brandy pops up regularly between December and March. I am partial to Armagnac.

- hotwine - 02-04-2006 08:09 PM

We use it as a mixer. I gave up taking the stuff straight up a long time ago.

- robr - 02-04-2006 08:25 PM

Why? Is it unpalatable straight up?

- Drew - 02-05-2006 07:56 AM

I too enjoy Cognac on occassion and in particular one called Alexandre Le Grande V.S.O.P., a wonderful, extreamly smooth, and one that displays a hugh nose, Cognac that I found here for $22. It is better than many Cognac that sells for 5 times that price.


- Bucko - 02-06-2006 01:47 AM

I definitely prefer a VSOP (at the least) to enjoy a smooth drink. XO is much better, but more costly. If you want to go wild, get Remy Martin Louis XIII Cognac.

- hotwine - 02-06-2006 08:23 AM

BK, as suggested by Drew and Bucko, the good stuff is very palatable indeed. In my youth, I enjoyed many distilled spirits neat, or with a little ice - The Glenlivet, Tullamore Dew, Old Overholt, JD Black, Remy Martin, etc. Now I limit my alcohol consumption to wine with dinner. We keep brandy and good whiskies on hand to serve guests, but I choose to avoid them.

- robr - 02-06-2006 04:12 PM

I see. So you would equate brandy with whiskey. Very interesting! I shall endeavor to find a good one and try it soon.

- hotwine - 02-06-2006 06:10 PM

I didn't "equate" brandy with whiskey; they're simply both distilled spririts, brandy from wine and whiskey from malted grain (as far as my non-chemist mind can grasp). The alcoholic content of either is a good four times that of wine.

- robr - 02-07-2006 02:51 PM

That's kind of what I meant, as far as the alcohol percentage and the way it is consumed.

Last night I bought a bottle of Couversier (sp?) congnac. Wow! Pretty potent stuff, and very tasty. I bought it on the recom of Tim Meadows, the "Lady's Man"!

- Kcwhippet - 02-07-2006 03:11 PM

I've never been much for brandy, though I've had my share over the years. I can certainly understand why it's not as popular as it may have been some years ago. There's been a lot of recent marketing of all the latest designer tequilas and the hundreds of single malt Scotch, not to mention what seems to be a thousand new brands of vodka and almost as many new gins. We don't seem to be selling as much brandy in the shop as we did a few years ago, and I don't see much marketing out there promoting it. Personally, I'd rather a single malt Scotch. If I were to lean toward a brandy-like spirit, I'd most likely go for a Grappa.

- robr - 02-07-2006 03:34 PM

I agree. Single malt Scotch is divine! I esp like the hard to find ones, like Cragganmore, and a few others.

[This message has been edited by bernkastler (edited 02-07-2006).]

- Thomas - 02-07-2006 03:40 PM

There aren't many wine-based drinks I don't like KC, but grappa happens to be one of them.

Having said that, I once tasted 50 grappe (over two days) in Italy for an article I wrote. In that 50 there were about 6 I liked a lot--they were the smoothest ones. The best was a grappa that had a feminine quality to it; lean, luxurious, silky, seductive. After looking at my notes, the guy who was pouring told me that it was the only grappa in the lot that had been produced by a woman, which he described as lean, luxurious, silky, and sexy--in Italian, of course, so my wife, who was standing next to me, could not understand.

[This message has been edited by foodie (edited 02-07-2006).]

- Kcwhippet - 02-07-2006 07:22 PM

Bern, I realy like where I work. We have over 150 single malts in stock. Cragganmore is there in several different versions.

Foodie, Forgot to add something. I, too, like the feminine style of grappa. Probably my favorite is one made from Muscat.

[This message has been edited by Kcwhippet (edited 02-07-2006).]