The term brandy is a shortening of brandywine, which was derived from the Dutch word brandewijn, itself derived from gebrande wijn, which literally means "burned wine.
Brandy is generally produced by distilling wine but in the general colloquial usage of the term, brandy may also be made from pomace and from fermented fruit other than grapes. If a beverage comes from a particular fruit (or multiple fruits) other than exclusively grapes, it may be referred to as a "fruit brandy" or "fruit spirit" or named using the specific fruit, such as "cherry brandy", rather than just generically as "brandy". These products are also called eau de vie (which translates to "water of life").
Brandy generally contains 35 - 60% alcohol by volume and is typically drunk as an after-dinner digestif. Some brandies are aged in wooden casks, others are coloured with caramel colouring to imitate the effect of ageing and some are produced using a combination of both ageing and colouring.
Varieties of wine brandy can be found across the winemaking world and amongst the most renowned are those produced in Cognac and Armagnac. In Cognac and Armagnac, southwest France, brandy production has been taken seriously for centuries. Both of these areas have protected appellations for the brandy they make, and legally regulated labelling terms are used to communicate the length of time a brandy has spent in barrel.