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brandy   Notes:   Legend has it that brandy was first produced when an enterprising sea captain distilled wine in order to save space on his ship.  He planned to reconstitute it with water when he arrived at his home port, but those who sampled the new concoction liked it just the way it was.  Today, most brandy is distilled from white wine, though red wine and other fermented fruit juices are also used.  It's then aged in oak barrels for several years.  

Brandy is often served as an after-dinner drink, or added to coffee.  There are two highly regarded French brandies: Cognac and the slightly drier Armagnac.  California also produces many fine brandies that are similar to cognac. Metaxa is a strong Greek brandy that tastes of resin.  Spanish brandy is based on sherry, and is heavier and sweeter than French brandy.  Apple brandy is distilled from apple cider, while pear brandy is made from pear cider.  Fruit brandies are distilled from the fruit itself, instead of fruit juices.   Substitutes:   Combine one part brandy extract with four parts water or other liquid OR bourbon OR fruit syrups


Abricotine  See apricot brandy.

aguardiente  See grappa

apple brandy = eau-de-vie de cidre = eau-de-vie de marc de cidre = cider brandy   Notes:   This exquisite brandy has a soft apple fragrance.  Calvados = calva (cal-VAH-dohs) is the French version, applejack = apple jack is the inferior American version.  Calvados is ranked much like cognac. The very best Calvados are labeled Napoleon, Extra Old (XO), Extra, or Hors D'Age. After that comes VSOP, Vieille Reserve, or VO. Next come Vieux or Reserve Calvados, then those with three stars or three apples on their labels.   Substitutes:  pear brandy OR equal parts apple juice concentrate and cognac 

applejack See apple brandy.

apricot brandy = barack   Notes:   This is distilled from apricot juice.  Brands include the French Abricotine, and the Hungarian Barack Pálinka.    Substitutes:  apricot liqueur (sweeter) OR cherry brandy OR apricot schnapps OR orange liqueur OR apricot nectar   

aqua vitæ = aqua vitae  See brandy. 

Armagnac  Pronunciation:   ar-muhn-YAK  Notes:  This French brandy is similar to cognac, but with a more pronounced flavor.   Since their quality varies, Armagnac brandies don't share cognac's exalted reputation, but a good Armagnac compares favorably with any cognac.   Substitutes:  cognac (lighter, sweeter) 


cachaça = cachaca = pinga    Pronunciation:  kah-SHAH-sah   Notes:   This sugarcane brandy is made in Brazil, where the name means "burning water."  Velho Barreto is a well-regarded brand.   Substitutes:  white rum OR tequila OR grappa OR marc


Calvados  See apple brandy. 


cognac  Shopping hints:   The very best cognacs are labeled VVSOP, Napoleon, Vieille Reserve, Grand Reserve, Royal, or Vieux. Next in the rankings are cognacs labeled Extra Old (XO), Extra, or Hors D'Age. After that comes VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale), Reserve, or VO. Next come cognacs with VS or *** on their labels.  Connoisseurs also check for the cru, or place where the cognac was made. The best crus are Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne.  Substitutes:  armagnac (more flavorful and slightly drier than cognac) OR American brandy  

eaux de vie  See brandy.  

eau-de-vie de poire  See pear brandy.


framboise = framboise eau de vie = framboise eau-de-vie   Pronunciation:  frahm-BWAHZ  Notes:    This is a clear French fruit brandy that's made with raspberries.  Don't confuse this with framboise liqueur, which is sweeter, or with framboise syrup, which is a non-alcoholic raspberry flavoring.  Substitutes:  kirschwasser OR raspberry liqueur (sweeter) OR framboise syrup (sweeter, non-alcoholic, and cheaper)  

fruit brandies = eaux de vie = eaux-de-vie =  aqua vitæ = aqua vitae = white alcohol = white spirits    Notes:   While other brandies are distilled from fruit juice, fruit brandies are distilled from the entire fruit--skins, pits, and all.   They're usually colorless, and fairly high in alcohol.  Varieties include apricot brandy, plum brandy, kirschwasser (cherries), framboise (raspberries), fraise (strawberries), grappa (grapes), pisco (Muscatel grapes), mure (blackberries), and myrtille (bilberries).   Don't confuse fruit brandies with the cheaper and cloyingly sweet fruit-flavored brandies.   Substitutes:  brandy OR fruit-flavored brandy


fruit-flavored brandy  Notes:  This is brandy that has fruit flavoring and coloring added.  Don't confuse these sweet liqueurs with the more elegant and expensive fruit brandy, which is distilled from whole fruit.   Substitutes:   fruit liqueur OR fruit wine

grapa  See grappa


grappa = grapa = marc = eau-de-vie de marc = eau de vie de marc = aguardiente = testerbranntwein = bagaceira = pomace brandy   Pronunciation:  GRAH-pah  Notes:   This potent and somewhat harsh drink is made from the grape residue, called pomace, that's left over from making brandy.  It's traditionally been thought of as a second-rate eau de vie, but some producers have developed premium grappas that are quite smooth and very pricey.  Grappa is the Italian version, marc the French, aguardiente the Spanish, testerbranntwein the German, and bagaceira the Portuguese.      Substitutes:   raki OR apple brandy OR pear brandy OR cognac OR armagnac 



kirsch = kirschwasser = cherry brandy = Schwarzwalder    Pronunciation: KEERSH   Notes:  This colorless cherry brandy is made primarily in Germany.  French kirsch isn't quite as dry.  Substitutes: cherry liqueur OR framboise OR plum brandy OR cherry syrup  

marc  See grappa


Metaxa   Pronunciation: meh-TAHK-suh   Notes:   This is a sweet Greek brandy with a strong resin flavor.  Substitutes:  cognac OR armagnac


mirabelle  See plum brandy. 


pear brandy = eau-de-vie de poire   Notes:  Brandy made from Williams pears (like Poire Williams and Williamine) are especially good.  Some bottles have an entire pear in the bottle. Substitutes:  apple brandy OR other brandy   See also: brandy

pinga  See cachaca.


pisco = pisco brandy  Notes:   This Peruvian brandy is based on Muscat wine.  Substitutes:  grappa


plum brandy   Notes:   Distilled from plums, plum brandy is usually colorless and quite potent.  Slivovitz = slivovic = slivowitz ( SHLIV-uh-vits) is made in Serbia and Bosnia from blue plums, and is very highly regarded.  Other varieties include mirabelle (made with yellow plums), quetsch (Alsatian plums), pflümli, and light green prunelle.   Substitutes:  fruit brandy OR grappa OR sloe gin 

poire Williams  See pear brandy.

prunelle  See plum brandy.

quetsch  See plum brandy. 

slivovitz  See plum brandy. 

Spanish brandy  Notes:  This sweet and heavy brandy is based on sherry.  Substitutes: cognac OR armagnac

testerbranntwein  See grappa.

Williamine   See pear brandy.

Copyright © 1996-2005  Lori Alden