hist-brewing: Brandy and fortified wines

Jeff Renner nerenner at umich.edu
Thu Sep 21 05:41:54 PDT 2000

PBLoomis at aol.com wrote:

>Which brings up the question: if it is necessary to specify grape
>brandy, what other kinds of brandy are there?  I don't know any.

Again, from my trusty Lechine:

"Brandy.  The word alone means distilled wine.  It has been 
appropriated to refer to distillates from other fruits - apples, 
pears, cherries, etc. - but in such cases will always be qualified by 
the source.  Brandy, when it stands alone, is a product of the grape 
and is distilled throughout the world."

The O.E.D. has this to say:

"[The orig. form brandwine, brandewine is a. Dutch brandewijn `burnt' 
(i.e. distilled) wine. In familiar use abbreviated as brandy as early 
as 1657; but the fuller form was retained in official use (customs 
tariffs, acts of parliament, etc.) down to the end of 17th c., being 
latterly, as the spelling shows, regarded as a compound of brandy + 
wine. ]


"a. Properly an ardent spirit distilled from wine or grapes; but the 
name is also applied to spirits of similar flavour and appearance, 
obtained from other materials."

>     Also, is the difference in alcohol content a function of original
>percent, or of losses over a longer aging process?

Lechine says of Fino, "Less fortified than Oloroso, Fino is more 
alive."  He also says, however, "Because of its delicate 
constitution, Fino is exported at higher alcoholic strength to help 
it travel (18% to 20%, while domestic Fino is 16% to 17%), and this 
diminishes its bouquet."

Also, regarding increasing alcohol with increasing age, this of Amantillado:

"A darker-colored Sherry ... than Fino.  It averages 18% of alcohol 
by volume, though with age it may reach 24% and 25%."  His entry for 
Oloroso has a similar statement.

Jeff Renner in Ann Arbor, Michigan USA, c/o nerenner at umich.edu
"One never knows, do one?"  Fats Waller, American Musician, 1904-1943

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