Brandies are distilled from wines and other fermented fruits and typically served as after-dinner drinks. They are also very well known for their flaming properties in such dishes as crepes suzette, and make elegant additions to appetizers and entrees.
The best brandy is known as cognac, which is representative of a specific region in France. Most brandy is aged in oak barrels over a period of several years. A high-quality, aged cognac should be served alone, but other, lesser varieties are ideal for cooking.
This liquor is famous for its inclusion in the historically traditional English Christmas cakes (fruitcakes). It is said that the more brandy that is added, the longer the cake will last, often for years.
Once bottled, the aging process stops and brandy is ready to drink. After opening, keep tightly closed in a cool dark spot and most brandies should remain good for up a year. They are best, however, when consumed within three months of opening.
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