Contrary to popular opinion, you do not need a library full of leather bound books to enjoy brandy. Turns out all you need is a bottle of the stuff and a glass. But the smooth taste will make you feel fancy, wherever you happen to be sitting. Brandy is produced by distilling wine, which leads to an ABV typically between 35-60%. Brandy denotes a spirit made from any distilled wine, so fruit brandies are created from wines made of apples, cherries, plums, pears and more.
Check the Rating:
Brandy alcohol is generally rated by age, though they can range wildly by country. But this should help you out in most cases:
VS (Very Special): aged at least three years. This is the type of brandy typically used for mixing cocktails.
VSOP (Very Special Old Pale): aged at least four years.
XO (Extra Old): aged six and a half years or more.
Hors d'age or Vintage: aged ten years or more. Vintage brandies will show the year of harvest on the bottle while the age of hors d'age is unknown.
How to Drink It:
Older brandies are best enjoyed neat. Younger brandies are at home in a wide variety of cocktails, including the Hot Toddy, Sidecar, Pisco Sour and more.