Brandy (from brandywine, derived from Dutch brandewijn, "burnt wine") is a spirit produced by distilling wine.
Brandy generally contains 35–60% alcohol by volume (70–120 US proof) and is typically taken as an after-dinner drink. Some brandies are aged in wooden casks, some are coloured with caramel colouring to imitate the effect of aging, and some brandies are produced using a combination of both aging and colouring.
Brandy is also produced from fermented fruits other than grapes, but these products are typically named fruit brandy and eaux-de-vie.
In some countries, fruit flavouring or some other flavouring may be added to a spirit that is called "brandy".
Cognac named after the town of Cognac in France, is a variety of brandy. It is produced in the wine-growing region surrounding the town from which it takes its name, in the French Departements of Charente and Charente-Maritime.
For a distilled brandy to bear the name Cognac, an Appellation d'origine contrôlée, its production methods must meet certain legal requirements. In particular, it must be made from specified grapes, of which Ugni blanc, known locally as Saint-Emilion, is the one most widely used. The brandy must be twice distilled in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in French oak barrels from Limousin or Tronçais. Cognac matures in the same way as whiskies and wine when aged in barrels, and most cognacs are aged considerably longer than the minimum legal requirement.