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How to Read a Brandy Label – Learning From The Bottle

by Adriatik
6 minutes read
reading label from bottle a spirit

Why To Read a Brandy Label?

Just as with wine and sparkling wine, brandy bottles also contain lots of very useful information on the label of the bottle. In this post, we will go through how to read a brandy label and what you can learn from it.

The most important reason why you need to read a brandy label and understand it is because the older a brandy is the more flavor it will have and the more expensive it will be. If you get this wrong, it may end up being a very expensive mistake. That’s why you need to know how to read a brandy label so that you serve the correct brandy to your guests every single time.

The Information On The Label

How to Read a Brandy Label

The brandy bottle will tell you the name of the brandy. This is vital because when guests order a brandy, they will order according to the name on the bottle. Then, underneath the name, there will be a number or a symbol. This number or symbol refers to the age of the brandy in the bottle, or for how long it has been maturing in an oak barrel. For example, if there is a “10” on the bottle, means that the brandy in the bottle was stored for a minimum of 10 years in a barrel.

In some other brandies, you will find symbols or letters instead of numbers. And all of these letters mean something specific and tell you about the brandy in the bottle. Let’s have a look at some of the symbols that you may find on a brandy bottle:

  1. V – Very
    S – Special
    O – Old
    P – Pale
    Very Special Old Pale
  2. X – Extra
    F – Fine
    B – Brandy
    Extra Fine Brandy
  3. V – Very
    S– Special
    Very Special

These different letters can be combined in different ways to communicate something specific about the brandy.

  • Brandy VS means this particular brandy is very special and that is three years or older
  • Brandy VSOP, VO, and RESERVE means that the bottle is a “very special old pale”, and that is five years or older.
  • Brandy XO, or NAPOLEON, means it is “extra old” and it is 10 years or older, with some Napoleons having spent thirty years in a barrel.

The mentioned details that you will understand after you read a brandy label are the most important ones but still, there is more information to understand from reading the label such as:

  • Type of Brandy: Look for indications of the type of brandy, such as whether it’s a grape brandy, fruit brandy (such as apple or pear), or other variations. This information might be in the brand name itself or listed separately.
  • Alcohol Content: The alcohol by volume (ABV) percentage is usually displayed somewhere on the label. It indicates the strength of the brandy.
  • The Origin: This refers to the region where the grapes used to make the brandy were grown. Some brandies, like Cognac and Armagnac, have strict regulations regarding their production regions. This information may be stated explicitly or implied in the brand name.
  • Producer or Distiller: The label should mention the company or distillery that produced the brandy. This can provide insight into the brand’s reputation and quality.
  • Special Designations: Some brandies may have special designations, such as “Single Barrel,” indicating that the brandy comes from a single cask, or “Solera,” indicating a blending method.

FAQ’s:

What Is The Meaning Of Brandy VSOP?

This means that the bottle is a “very special old pale”, and that is five years or older.

What Is The Meaning Of Brandy XO?

This means is “extra old” and it is 10 years or older, with some Napoleons having spent 30 years in a barrel.

The Number On The Brandy Label Means What?

This number or symbol refers to the age of the brandy in the bottle, or for how long it has been maturing in an oak barrel.

We hope that by the end of this post, you will be able to read a brandy label and understand it better than before.

All the images in this post are not copyrighted and have been taken by the author of this post.

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