Definitions

tranche de vie

Eau-de-vie

An eau-de-vie (plural, eaux-de-vie) is a clear, colorless fruit brandy that is produced by means of fermentation and double distillation. The fruit flavor is typically very light.

Although eau de vie is a French term, similar distilled beverages are produced in other countries (for example, German Schnaps, Balkan rakia, Hungarian palinka, Sri Lankan coconut arrack), and Georgian chacha (ჭაჭა).

A typical scenario would involve growing the appropriate fruit, harvesting it when ripe, fermenting the crushed fruit, and then distilling. Eaux-de-vie are typically not aged in wooden casks, hence they are clear. The ripe fruit is fermented, distilled, and quickly bottled in order to preserve the freshness and aroma of the parent fruit. Although this is the usual practice, some variants do exist, and some distillers age their products before bottling.

Some commonly available flavors are eau-de-vie de poire (pear), eau-de-vie de pomme (apple), eau-de-vie de mirabelle (yellow plum), and eau-de-vie de pêche (peach). When made from pomace, it is called pomace brandy or marc. The French apple-flavored spirit Calvados is made by aging it in wooden casks before bottling.

Serving

Exact serving preferences vary by individual, but here are some general guidelines:

  • Temperature: Eaux-de-vie are usually served chilled.
  • Serving size: Usually served as a digestif (a postprandial alcoholic drink that aids digestion). The typical serving size is 1–2 ounces, owing to the high alcohol content of the spirit and to the fact that it is typically drunk after a meal during which wine, or some other alcoholic beverage, has already been served.
  • Glassware. Some connoisseurs recommend a tulip-shaped glass; others recommend a snifter.

Etymology

Eau de vie is a French expression that means water of life. Other spirits have similar etymologies, such as whisky, which is an anglicization of the Irish uisce beatha or of the Scottish Gaelic uisge beatha. Similarly, we see aqua vitae in Latin (pronounced /AHK-wə VYE-tee/) and akvavit (/AHK-və-veet/) in the Scandinavian languages. The Slavic terms (wódka in Polish and vodka in Russian) are diminutives of the words for water.

See also

References

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