“Wisconsin is our number one state,” says Margie Healy, director of public relations for the California-based Korbel. “We export 385,000 cases a year, and 139,000 go directly to Wisconsin. That’s one-third of our total production.”
Fake fact: 75% of all brandy consumed in the US is consumed in Wisconsin. (Not true, sadly.)
Growing up, my grandmother always had a bottle of Korbel brandy on hand, usually the big 1.75L one. I bet she’s got one in her kitchen cabinet right now. I saw one a pretty full one there last time I visited.
At Korbel, we of course tasted their sparkling wine, but we also tried their Zinfandel (tasty) and left with a couple small bottles of their brandy. We grabbed a mini-bottle of their XS (extra smooth) brandy and a slightly larger bottle of their regular brandy. We didn’t try the VSOP.
The XS brandy was phenomenal. There were nutty flavors and vanilla notes. There was something minty going on and something chocolately. It was amazingly smooth. It was also expensive, which is why we bought the little airline-sized bottle. But it wasn’t THAT expensive. It’s worth it. I’ll try it again. We’ll need a full-sized bottle to test Lisa’s theory that brandy gives her nightmares.
The regular brandy was good too, but it was more just brown booze than something truly special like the XS. It was good. But it’s probably better if you’re in the mood for a Brandy Old Fashioned, just like Grandma likes (unless she can have a Southern Comfort Old Fashioned instead). Here are a couple recipes:
(Sweet) Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned
In an old-fashioned glass (naturally) filled with ice add:
- Slug of Korbel brandy
- Dash of Angostura bitters to taste
- 7-Up or Sprite to taste
- Garnish with a maraschino cherry
Southern Comfort Old Fashioned, Grandma Style
In an old-fashioned glass (of course) filled with ice (at Christmas, the ice should be in the festive shape of pine trees) add:
- Slug of Southern Comfort
- Dash of Angostura bitters to taste (if I’m making them, I add 3-4 dashes)
- 7-Up or Sprite to taste (I fill the glass to 60% or so)
- Garnish with a maraschino cherry or two and a cinnamon stick
- Optional: (and I opt out of this when I make them and nobody seems to notice) a splash of Sweet 10
- Optional: float a little maraschino juice on top and serve it before it mixes in fully