Brandy Sauce - Defined
Brandy—A spirit distilled from wines, is clear and sparkling. In the year 1878 the vineyards of the Charente were devastated by the phylloxera, causing the annual production, which averaged 170,000,000 gallons, to fall in 1898 to only 11,000,000; consequently, since 1878, only a very small quantity of genuine brandy has been shipped to this country, the bulk being a blend of grain spirit flavored with brandy. An oil distilled from brandy is used with a spirit in producing an imitation that is sold as cooking brandy.
Brandy, the name most commonly applied to the spirit distilled from the juice of the grape, but also given to liquors distilled from other fruits, sucn as apples, cherries, peaches, etc. All these brandies diner from each other only in the essential oil which they contain, and which gives to each its different flavor and aroma.
The alcohol in brandy generally constitutes 50 percent of the whole, the remaining substances being water, amyl, propyl, and isobutyl, alcohols, glycerol, etc. The aroma is due to crnanthic ether and some volatile oils. A brandy highly esteemed is that of Cognac, exported from south-western France, and 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, and this is frequently added in excess to give a rich appearance to a brandy of low quality.
A large proportion of the brandy sold in the United States is simply raw grain spirits flavored and colored. The spirit is imported into France, where it is redistilled and converted into French brandy. Brandy improves in flavor by being kept, but loses in strength. Genuine Cognac brandy has always been both costly and difficult to obtain in this country (the more so on account of the high import tariff collected thereon), the price for the liquor reaching $20 or more per gallon.
Of late years the development of viticulture in the western States, particularly in California, has enabled American enterprise to produce a brandy that is everywhere a formidable rival to the French article, and for purity and excellence infinitely preferable to the compounded and doctored spirit for which we have been accustomed to pay so high a price.
Genuine brandy consists of alcohol and water, with small quantities of cmanthic 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.
Imitation brandy is prepared either by flavoring highly rectified spirit with essence of Cognac or by distilling the spirit with bruised prunes, acetic ether, argol, and a little genuine brandy, and adding to the distilled spirit tincture of catechu and spirit coloring. This is said to be greatly improved by keeping.
Brandy Sauce—Water, lemon juice, sugar and grated nutmeg brought to the boil, butter and flour sizzling in another sauce pan, the flavored water strained into it, stirring at the same time, allowed to simmer for a few minutes, taken from the fire, and brandy to the desired flavor added.