Brandy is a liquor produced by distilling wine. Brandy generally contains 35–60% alcohol by volume (70–120 US proof) and is typically consumed as an after-dinner digestif. Some brandies are aged in wooden casks. Others are colored with caramel colouring to imitate the effect of aging, and some are produced using a combination of both aging and coloring. Varieties of wine brandy can be found across the winemaking world. Among the most renowned are Cognac and Armagnac from southwestern France.
In Etos Kosmou 6829 (AD 1320) Basil Argyros stopped off at Priskos' tavern after a day's work for a drink. He found something unusual, a drink Priskos called yperoinos or superwine.
Argyros stopped there by chance since it wasn't one of his regular taverns. He was alarmed by the reaction of one of the patrons, thinking the man had been poisoned, but he quickly recovered. The man explained it was the drink he had swallowed and bought Argyros a cup. Argyros was surprised by the price of two-miliaresion, a high price for a drink. He observed the regulars grinning so he sipped it cautiously. Fire burned down his throat but Argyros only coughed slightly. He had two more drinks of superwine but it snuck up on him and he fell asleep in the tavern with the third drink unfinished.
The next day, Argyros went to his office with the worst hangover he could remember. His superior, George Lakhanodrakon, came into the office to give Argyros his latest assignment. Lakhanodrakon expressed concern over Argyros's condition, then explained what he knew about the troubles in the Caucasus and in Alania in particular that he wanted Argyros to investigate. Argyros decided to go in the guise of a merchant and to trade in superwine, both as a novelty and as a means of quickly getting people drunk so they might slip up and say things they wouldn't otherwise.