Sometimes you have to make a choice between what’s interesting and what’s practical. It isn’t an easy choice.
And the right choice is highly dependent on the options presented before you.
“Do I blow my life savings on a Countach, or do I put my child through college.”
It’s pretty obvious what the right choice is in that example.
But not every choice is as simple as choosing a sports car.
This week, I could either talk to you about alcohol that has been infused with poisonous snakes… OR brandy.
It seems like the snake booze is the obvious choice, BUT, I just don’t forsee any of you bastards being able to get your hands on it (unless you live in India, China, various other parts of eastern Asia, or certain regions of mexico. Now that I look at it, it’s kind of a long list. That said, most of you are likely from all the places NOT listed there, so we’re just going to assume that if you’re reading this, you don’t live in rural India).
We’re talking brandy and we’re keeping it brief-ish...
- Brandy is made by distilling wine. Not just grape wine though, it can be distilled from many different kinds of fruit wines, including but not limited to peaches, apples, apricots, prunes, coconut flower sap, pears, elderberries, cherries, mullberries, etc.
- Not only can it be made from all that, it can also be made from the pomace of various fruits as well, which starts to cover a completely different category of spirits, one of which we’ve already covered in a previous TIP. The italian pomace distillate: Grappa.
- Because of this level of variation in fermentable sources, brandy might be the largest umbrella category of spirits, the only exception maybe being wine, which again, can technically be made from any number of fruits or grains.
- Like wine, even though there might be a huge variety of potential fruits, the majority of western world associates brandy with grapes. This style features many sub-categories you might be familiar with such as Congac, Armagnac, and Pisco among others.
- There are typically some letters listed on the labels of western wine brandies (though, only regulated in the cognac and armagnac varieties). They mean something. You should probably know what that is:
- A.C.: aged two years in wood.
- V.S.: "Very Special" or 3-Star, aged at least three years in wood.
- V.S.O.P.: "Very Superior Old Pale" or 5-Star, aged at least five years in wood.
- X.O.: "Extra Old" aged at least six years in wood.
- Vintage: Stored in the cask until the time it is bottled with the label showing the vintage date.
- Hors d'age: These are too old to determine the age, although ten years plus is typical.
One last and important thing to note about brandy: In the west, if you want to be a classy mother fucker, you drink brandy out of a snifter. What is a snifter, you say? Glad you asked. A snifter is a bowl shaped glass, with a squat, short stem. Rather than describing the damn thing, let's just look at this picture.
HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: the shape of the glass is widest towards the bottom and tapers towards the top. This shape is similar to certain kinds of wine glasses as well as scotch glasses. The reason for the shape, is to create a greater surface area at the level where the liquid rests, creating more liquid vapor, and tapering the shape up towards the nose, so that the aroma of the spirit inside becomes more pronounced to you. Pretty fucking cool.
ANOTHER COOL THING about the shape of the glass is that if you pour the brandy into the glass, and fill it JUST to the spot where the glass is widest, a brandy snifter should be able to be turned on it’s side, and still not spill the contents of a perfect measure.
EVEN MORE SHIT TO KNOW: The stem is short, and unlike a champagne flute, you don’t actually hold a snifter by the stem itself. The stem is only there to get the bowl enough off the table so that your hand can scoop up the snifter with your palm. Because brandy can be enjoyed slightly warm, having your hand wrapped around the bottom of the glass, allows your body heat to warm the brandy, enhancing the vapor and thus aroma.
NEXT LEVEL SHIT: Some people even go so far as to place their snifters on small holders , featuring candles, that can raise the temperature of the brandy even further. Many people think this is going a bit too far and ruins the brandy. If nothing else, it is some fancy equipment that I’m not fully prepared to purchase myself. A snifter is fancy enough for me.