Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Brandy

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BRANDY, a spirit produced by the distillation of both white and red wines, prepared chiefly in the south of France. A brandy highly esteemed is that of Cognac, which is obtained by distilling white wines of the finest quality. An inferior kind of spirit is frequently prepared from the “marc” of grapes and the refuse of wine vats. When first distilled it is as colorless as alcohol, and continues so if kept in bottles or jars. When stored in casks, however, it acquires from the wood a pale amber tint, and in this state is sold as pale brandy. The dark color of brown brandy is produced artificially, to please the public taste, by means of a solution of caramel. The development of viticulture in the Western States, particularly in California, enabled American enterprise to produce a brandy that was a formidable rival to the French article. Genuine brandy consists of alcohol and water, with small quantities of œnanthic ether, acetic ether, and other volatile bodies produced in the process of fermentation. The value of brandy as a medicine depends on the presence of these ethers and other volatile products; when, therefore, it is adulterated with raw grain spirit and water, the amount of these ethers is so reduced that the brandy becomes almost valueless for medical purposes.