What is brandy and what are its characteristics
First of all it is good to specify the name brandy is of Dutch origin, and it derives from "brandewijn", which means "burnt wine". It is therefore a liquor which is made from the juice, pulp or skin of a fruit. It was born in the seventh-eighth century after Christ, by Arab alchemists, who used it as a medicine. Its spreading in Europe was made possible thanks to Spain and Ireland. It is characterized by an alcohol by volume of 40%.
It is characterized by an aging in oak casks, or by following the "criaderas y soleras" method. This method requires the filling of oak casks which are arranged in overlapping rows. It always and only starts by filling the ones at the top: after one year part of the content is poured in the casks below, whereas the ones above will receive a new brandy. In this way the wine we get at the base of this arrangement is not only ready to be consumed, but above all it will have particular flavors and aromas, given by the continuous mixing.
Another important aspect in order to know brandy is learning to understand its classification: it is catalogued according to the Hennessy classification method which depends on its aging.
AC: when the brandy is aged for two years;
VS (Very Special): when it is aged for at least three years;
VSOP (very superior old pale): aged for at least five years;
XO (Extra old) is aged for at least six years;
Hors D'age: aged for more than six years;
Vintage Brandy: when selected grapes of a particular vintage are used for the production.