Wine is nice, but circumstance can call for something more direct. Spirits are made by distilling alcohol from fermented source materials: brandy is distilled from wine, rum from fermented sugarcane and whisky from grains (from beer, essentially). These spirits retain flavours of their sources, whereas vodka aims at purity. Vodka is distilled from any source then filtered to remove flavour. If required, chosen flavours can then be infused back - like Gin, essentially a pure vodka aromatised by botanicals. Spirits are often mixed, but as purists we tend to prefer the sipping kind - spirits you can swirl and ponder in a nice big snifter or tumbler.