It is a little-known fact that brandy is derived from simple distilled wine. Brandy is the cousin of wine despite having a larger alcohol content. Brandy’s 90-100 proof quality also makes it easy for people to mistake it for whiskey.
Unlike wine, brandy is always seen as an old man’s drink, always taken with a well-sized cigar while watching a game or talking about the good old days. Part of the reason why this happens is because of the poor branding and marketing of the drink.
Wine and drinks like champagne and whiskey go through rigorous and often restricted regulations that make them rare and prestigious. This branding strategy limits the type of drinks that can be made under one flag and also ensures strict methods are used in their production. The result of this is well-established drinks with dedicated fans and specialized social decorum around their consumption.
Brandy on the other hand has had a rocky marketing approach that has allowed it to lose its fans and its general popularity. In this article, we will dive into the key differences between wine and brandy; their properties, how they are produced, and most importantly – how to drink them.
Summary of the Key Differences Between Wine and Brandy
|Definition||Wine is an alcoholic beverage with a low ABV made by fermenting grapes.||Brandy is an alcoholic beverage with a high ABV made through the distillation of wine.|
|The alcohol content||6-12%||35-60%|
|Types||Red wine, white wine, rose wine, sparkling wine, dessert wine, and fortified wine||Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados, brandy de Jerez, Spanish brandy, Obstler, Pisco, Cypriot, Pomace, and Armenian brandy|
|Uses and applications||With food and for leisure use||As an after-dinner drink and for leisure use|
Wine vs. Brandy: Definition and Types
Wine is one of the most popular alcoholic drinks, ranked right below beer and whiskey. It is characterized by its low alcohol by volume (ABV) percentage of just 6-12% and its production process that just entails the fermentation of grapes.
Brandy on the other hand is a less popular liquor/spirit that comes from distilling wine. It is well known for its greenish color tints to straw yellow or golden colors. Since it goes through the distillation process, brandy has a higher alcohol content than the wine that makes it. You will find typical brandies with alcohol by volume percentages that range from 35 – 60%. This ABV value translates to 70 -120 US proof.
Brandy and wine can be made with different methods and various ingredients to give rise to several types of drinks. Common types of wine include red wine, white wine, rose wine, sparkling wine, dessert wine, and fortified wine. All these categories of wine are made from hundreds of grape varieties to give them distinct aroma and flavors.
The grape varieties are not the only reason we have so many types of wine. Other factors that go into making different types of wine include the production region and additives that are used to instill several desired characters.
Cognac and Armagnac are the only two types of brandy that undergo regulated grading systems to label them as brandy. However, other types such as Calvados, brandy de Jerez, Spanish brandy, Obstler, Pisco, Cypriot, Pomace, and Armenian brandy are still popular choices to date.
In the European Union, the US, and Canada, a drink can only be classified as brandy if it is made by distilling a grape-based wine and aged for a specified period. For the European Union and Canada, the period is a minimum of six months whereas the US requires a minimum of two years.
Wine has a more regulated labelling system that is applied in most regions in the world. On a general basis, European regulations classify wines based on their region of origin such as Chianti or Bordeaux. Other regions in the world have regulations that classify wines based on the grapes used in their production such as Merlot or Pinot noir.
How Wine is Made as Compared to Brandy – How Varieties Emerge
The production of wine entails several stages, namely; harvesting, crushing and pressing, fermentation, clarification, and finally aging and bottling. Different brands and producers use variations of these processes to make unique blends that make wine drinking so interesting.
Wine grapes are harvested at specific times when they are ripe enough by mechanical or manual means. The harvesting process is the most important step, any wine expert may even say that the wine is usually made in the vineyard. Producers invest a lot in experts, consultants and vineyard managers to make sure the obtain the most ripe and fruitful yield.
After crushing and pressing the grapes into grape juice, the fermentation process begins and it will usually take 10-30 days or more in a few cases. Fermentation can occur naturally but it is aided by inoculating the natural must to achieve specific end results. The clarification stage will ensure the filtration of solids and precipitates before the wine is bottled for immediate consumption or left to age.
The production of brandy starts with the distillation a base wine to form a low wine that has 28-30% ABV. Distillation helps in increasing the alcohol content of the wine and changing the concentration and number of aromas in the base wine. The process is usually accomplished by using a distillation apparatus called a pot still.
The pot still distills the base wine in two stages; first stage turns base wine to low wine and the second stage produces the unaged brandy. Unaged brandy will then be placed in oak barrels or similar barrels depending on the aging period. After the aging period, the brandy will then be purified by distilled water to regulate the ABV concentration.
As you can see, wine does not go through the distillation process like brandy. Distillation increases the alcohol concentration and that is why hard liquor like brandy, whiskey, and vodka have to undergo this process. Distillation of brandy will retain the aromas and flavors that the base wine had. Some top-class brandies like Cognac are well known for their distinct green grape smell mixed with a bright apricot-like smell.
Wine vs. Brandy: When to Drink Them and Their Health Benefits
Like any other form of alcohol beverage, wine and brandy are designated for specific periods. Most drinkers will choose to drink them at any time but this will eliminate the benefits of the drinks.
Any form of alcohol is bad for the body, the human anatomy treats any alcoholic beverage like poison and will immediately try to eradicate it. Regardless, the ingredients in these drinks have a few physical benefits that attribute to their use at specific occasions.
For instance, scientific studies and various researches have shown how moderate wine consumption can help to lower bad cholesterol and boost the immune system. Even though wine has a low ABV concentration, excessive drinking will inevitably undo all of its benefits.
It is recommended to take wine with food, not only for the health benefits but to also enjoy the meal more with its flavor and alcohol count. Scientific studies have shown that taking wine with your food improves the wine’s cardioprotective benefits and also reduces the risks of food poisoning. You can now order a bottle of wine with all your restaurant meals knowing that it is going to save your life.
Brandy also has a few health benefits that make it a good choice for an after-dinner drink. It has been proven that brandy has soothing and relaxing effects on the body that make it a good sleep inducer. This is great for people who have an issue with falling asleep at night. Moreover, brandy is categorized as a digestif, a property that helps in the digestion of meals.
Despite all these benefits, you should limit your alcohol intake as much as possible to prevent addiction and other health complications like liver diseases. Wine and brandy are good accompaniments for your meals and they can be taken everyday if you so wish.
The Harvard School of Public Health recommends a maximum of two brandy drinks (2.5 ounces) for men every day but just one (1.25 ounces) for women. When it comes to wine the restriction is one glass (150 ml) for women and two glasses (300 ml) for men.