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What is the process of distilling wine?

For avid hobbyists, the fun doesn't stop after they get wine, some wish to distill it so they would enjoy a higher proof alcohol. Wines, since they're made from grapes, are made as fruit washes to make brandy, cognac and grappa. Here are some information about beverages that are produced from distilling wine.


Typically taken as an after-dinner drink, it's named is derived from Dutch brandewijn  meaning "burnt wine". Brandy usually contains 35–60% alcohol by volume (70–120 proof). Its distinctive nutty brownish color and flavor is achieved by aging in wooden casks (usually oak) while some are simply coloured with caramel colouring to imitate the effect of such aging.

Brandy is best drunk when cooled, it produces a fuller and smoother mouthfeel and less of a "burning" sensation. It also gives more pleasant aroma at a lower temperature.


The beverage is made by distilling the grape skins, pulp, seeds, and stems (pomace) left over from wine-making. Grappa has an alcohol content between 35%–60% (70 to 120 proof). It can only be called Grappa (as the name is so protected) if it is produced in Italy (where it originated), or in the Italian part of Switzerland, or in San Marino.

The distillation process occurs on solids and is carried out by steam distillation to avoid burning the pomace. The grapes' stems and seeds and a sugar-rich juice are fermented together which may produce a very small amount of methanol. Of course, methanol is carefully removed during distillation.


Cognac is a variety of brandy named after the town Cognac in France where it's largely produced. For a distilled brandy to bear the name Cognac, French legislation has set some production method requirements. It must be made from specific varieties of grapes, must be double distilled in copper alembic stills and aged for at least two years in oak casks.

During the production, the grapes are pressed and the obtained juice is left to ferment with the native's wild yeasts converting the sugar into alcohol. After 2-3 weeks of fermenting, the resulting wine is about 7 to 8% alcohol. This wine can be really undrinkable, it is very dry, acidic, and thin, but is excellent for distillation and aging.


This is a type of brandy produced in the Armagnic region of southwest France. It's made from distilling wine fermented from different grape varieties including Baco 22AColombard, and Ugni Blanc. The beverage is distilled once in a column still rather than a pot still which is used in making Cognac. A less smooth distillate is achieved after distillation however, the long aging in oak barrels develops more aromatic compounds that contribute to a more improved and complex flavor of the spirit. Aging in wooden casks also gives its caramel-like color.



Posted by Jason Stone on

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