Our Brandy / Wine Brandy Assortment
Wine spirits and brandies have been among the most popular and widely distributed spirits internationally for centuries. Distilled from different types of wine, various brands and their individual products offer their own unique flavours. Brandy and brandy are enjoyed classically neat or mixed with cola. Furthermore, the brandies lend an unmistakable flavour to a variety of well-known cocktails.Read more
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Wine spirits and brandies have been among the most popular and widely distributed spirits internationally for centuries. Distilled from different types of wine, various brands and their individual products offer their own unique flavours. Brandy and brandy are enjoyed classically neat or mixed with cola. Furthermore, the brandies lend an unmistakable flavour to a variety of well-known cocktails.
A brief history of brandy
Brandy, as this high-proof distillate is called in many countries, is a spirit whose entire alcohol content comes from wine. Brandy or wine distillates are among the oldest known spirits in the world. Historical findings show that high-proof distillates were probably already being produced from wine in the area of present-day Turkey around 1,000 AD. However, it took until the Middle Ages for these brandies to spread to Europe. At first, however, brandy was not known in Europe as a stimulant, but was used for medicinal purposes. Cognac in particular is said to have been invented by Chevalier de la Croix-Maron, an ancestor of the French noble Castelbajac family. In France, brandy was already exported to other European countries and overseas in the 17th century.
Origin of the name of the brandy
Brandy was originally called "brandewin" in Middle Low German. This later gave rise to the English expression brandy wine, which, shortened to brandy, is still used today as the name for brandy. This applies not only to English-speaking countries but also, among others, to brandies from Italy, Spain as well as from international production. Until the beginning of the 20th century, brandies were commonly called cognac or cognac in Germany. Since the end of the First World War, however, these terms have only been permitted as sales designations if a brandy was actually produced in the Cognac region of France.
Not all brandy is the same!
The terms brandy and brandy are often used as synonyms. However, this is not correct, because brandy is officially defined as any spirit that has been produced by distillation. Brandy, on the other hand, is always a distillate obtained from wine. However, as a special brandy, it belongs to the group of spirits which, from a fiscal point of view, are obtained as distillates from a variety of starch- and sugar-containing raw materials.
Legal regulations around brandy
Relevant EU regulations define the characteristics that distinguish a brandy or Weinbrand: Among other things, the spirits must have an alcohol content of at least 36 percent by volume, with the minimum content for German brandy even being 38 percent by volume. It should be noted, however, that the original distillate has an alcohol content of about 52 to 86 percent and is brought to drinking strength by the bottler before being sold. Furthermore, a brandy must be matured in oak barrels for at least six months. This gives the spirit its typical amber to dark brown colour. Nevertheless, the colour is not a quality feature of these spirits: according to legal regulations, the colouring agent sugar couleur may be added to them in addition to sugar. However, it is forbidden to add ethanol from other sources. Wine spirits according to EU regulations do not include so-called white wine spirits and fruit brandies, which must always be labelled with the fruit used and belong to the category of liqueurs.
Brandy: one drink, many countries of origin
Brandy is produced in almost all European countries where wine is also grown. For example, Spain, Greece, France and Germany are among the most important producers of brandies. But brandy is also traditionally produced in Italy and in large parts of the former Yugoslavia. Countries not typically known for viticulture, such as Norway, are also among the important producers of brandy. Last but not least, some countries overseas produce brandies, including the USA, Chile and Peru. In Switzerland, the production of brandy is of no importance. Nevertheless, many Swiss people naturally enjoy the high-quality brandies from their neighbouring countries and from overseas.
National characteristics of different brandies and wine spirits
Brandy and Weinbrand are produced differently in various European countries and internationally. The differences are mainly found in nuances of the distillation process and sometimes in the subsequent storage of the distillate.
Brandy from Germany
There are some well-known brandies from Germany. Among them are Asbach Uralt and Chantré. However, a product may only bear the designation "German brandy" if it has a minimum alcohol content of 38 percent by volume and is marked with an official test number. Neither of these apply to Chantré, for example. It has an alcohol content of only 36 percent and is not allowed to use the designation "German brandy", even though it is produced in Germany. Nevertheless, it has been number two among the best-selling spirits in Germany for years.
Brandies from France
France is known for its exquisite cognacs, which of course also belong to the category of wine spirits. However, due to legal naming regulations, only those brandies that have been distilled in the two departments of Charente and Charente-Maritime may be called cognac. In addition, a genuine Cognac must be aged for at least 30 months in Limousin oak barrels and have a minimum alcohol content of 40 percent by volume.
Also popular are the French wine brandies from Gascony, known as Armagnacs. Unlike Cognacs, these brandies are distilled in a single distillation, whereas Cognac uses the so-called double distillation process. Like Cognac, Armagnac is a protected geographical indication.
Brandies from Spain
Spain not only has the longest brandy tradition in all of Europe. The country is also the world's largest producer of brandy. Traditionally, more than 90 per cent of these brandies are distilled on the Spanish Atlantic coast in the Jerez de la Frontera region. Accordingly, "Brandy de Jerez" is a protected geographical designation of origin. Incidentally, this designation is the only one that has been officially approved by the EU.
Spanish brandies are produced by means of a special process. The Spaniards always use two completely different distillates for their brandy, which are mixed together. These are the holandas and the distilados. While the holandas are the actual flavour carriers of the brandy aroma, the distilados are aromatically neutral and thus give the brandy a lighter and at the same time milder taste.
Spanish brandy also differs significantly from products from other countries in terms of storage and maturation. First of all, it is stored in barrels made of American holm oak in which sherry was previously matured. In addition, it is matured in up to twelve stages of the so-called solera process. Here, brandies of different degrees of maturity are mixed with each other. This is why there are different quality levels for Spanish brandies. Solera must mature for at least six months, while Solera Reserva has a minimum maturation period of twelve months. Finally, Solera Gran Reserva stores and matures for at least 36 months, but usually much longer.
Brandy from Italy and Portugal
Portugal and Italy have also been producing high-quality brandies for many years. The best-known brandy from Italy is probably Vecchia Romagna, which is based on the same grape as Cognac. It is generally available in Switzerland in two qualities, namely with three and ten years' storage in Limousin oak barrels. One of the most popular brandies from Portugal is Macieira, which has been produced since 1885 and is stored in oak barrels for at least six months before it is bottled.