What is 'burned wine'?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By Tony Bell

Bars blogger

We have reached the final leg of our tour of the six major spirits, and it is time to look at brandy. Strictly speaking, the term 'brandy' applies to any grape-based spirit distilled from wine. The word comes from the Dutch term 'brandewjin', which means 'burned wine'. In the 16th Century, Dutch traders had sailed from Spain with barrels of wine. They discovered they could lighten their load by boiling or 'burning' the cargo.  At some point, the French took over the production of most of the brandy in the world, and especially one in particular, produced in the Cognac region of France.  Cognac has become the most popular form of brandy.

Most cognac is made from a white grape called Ugni Blanc.  The relative qualities of cognacs depend from the length of time they have been aged. The bottom rung of cognac, V.S. (Very Superior), has a blend of brandies that have been in the barrel for at least two years, though 4 years is more common. V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale) has been aged from 4-6 years, and the rarest and most expensive, X.O. (Extra Old) is at least 6, but usually about 20 years old.  Hennessy is one of the more famous brands of cognac, but others are Courvoiser, Martell and Remy Martin. 

Brandy is produced in other parts of the world besides France.  Spain would be second in terms of total brandy production.  Other producers include the United States, Germany, Greece and a number of countries in South America. 

Though there are some cocktails that utilize brandy (the Brandy Alexander) and cognac (the Sidecar), many drinkers prefer these spirits neat, and often in a snifter, to allow the liquor to breathe.  If you really want to be fancy, some people like to drink brandy or cognac warmed, but you need to be careful in attempting this.  Any way you choose to enjoy it, what was once known as  'burned wine' is a nice way to imbibe.  Until next time, cheers!

Love the Review?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Forest Park Review and ForestParkReview.com. We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

2 Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

John McKillip from Forest Park  

Posted: May 9th, 2013 4:48 PM

Jean, The Greeks (at least the ones in Chicago, that is) use Metaxa... it has a brandy base liquor and is sweetened with Muscat Wines and flavored with herbs.... It may interest you to know, however, Saganaki is a GREEK-AMERICAN invention which was invented right here in Chicago!!!

Jean Lotus from Forest Park Review  

Posted: April 22nd, 2013 8:58 PM

Here's a question: is there a special brandy people use to set things like cherries jubilee and baked Alaska on fire? We've tried to make flaming desserts with regular brandy and it's usually kind of a flop. And what do they use for Greek cheese?

Facebook Connect

Community Guide 2019 - 2020

To view the full print edition of the Forest Park Review 2019 - 2020 Community Guide, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Forest Park.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad

Latest Comments