How Brandy Is Different From Wine
Wine is an alcoholic drink that is the result of fermenting fruit juice. Grapes are mashed into a juice and pulp mixture into which yeast, water, and sometimes sugar, is added. This mixture is left to settle for a period of several days or weeks, during which time the yeast converts the sugars into ethanol, carbon dioxide, and heat.
The resulting product is a low-sugar, higher-alcohol liquid. This liquid is then aged for a period of weeks, months, or years, filtered, and bottled into an airtight container. This product is now considered wine.
In contrast, brandy is a liquor that is the result of distilling wine. Wine is placed in a distillation container and brought to a simmering boil. During the distillation process, excess water evaporates off and several distillate substances bubble out of the stills spout.
The hearts are collected into containers, poured into glass jars or barrels, and left to age. The resulting product now 35 to 60 percent alcohol by volume is considered brandy it can also be distilled and aged once again.
Sophies Meukow Cocktails From California
Our very own Sophie is a bit of a whizz when it comes to making Cognac cocktails. Nothing showcases this better than her mixology efforts in Sunny Californiaat a party in Palm Springs.
She chose to use some great Meukow Cognacs and liqueurs. And the results? Well, it was a wonderful success. The Cognac Caipirinha and the Bright and Stormy were the standout stars of the show.
- 3 key limes
- 2 tsp cane sugar
- Fresh mint
Preparation: Pour 2 shots of Cognac in a tall cocktail glass. Add a couple of ice cubes. Then fill up the glass with ginger beer. Add a twig of fresh mint and enjoy.
Recreate at home by purchasing a couple of bottles from Meukows great selection.
How Is Cognac Made
Where is Cognac produced?
Cognac is produced in the wine-growing region surrounding the town from which it takes its name, in the French Departements of Charente and Charente-Maritime. For a distilled brandy to bear the name Cognac, its production methods must meet certain requirements set by the Bureau National Interprofessional du Cognac .
You May Like: What Drinks To Make With Watermelon Vodka
The Grapes And Terroir Are Important
Cognac has been around for a very long time. Its made by double distilling white wines from a variety of grapes, including Folle Blanche, Colombard, Sémillon, Montils, Folignan and, the most common, Ugni Blanc.
Image: Benoit Linero
Cognac is a region, a town and a spirit, explains Cognac Park Owner and Master Blender Jérôme Tessendier. That is, indeed, very hard to beat. It is made from white grapes the dominant variety is Ugni Blanc. Cognac must be distilled twice and the distillation season lasts from October 1st through March 31st. After distillation, the eau-de- vie is aged and blended. The blending is what really makes cognac special. Cognac is the most complex spirit in the world to make and it takes the longest time to produce centuries, in some cases. We work, today, for the future generations.
Cognacs are born from a blend of terroir, know-how and passion, says Boileau. The grapes from a specific region, double distillation in copper stills on an open flame, long aging process in oak casks, and the patience in terms of time all make cognac special. Cognac is about blending, which allows the master blender to create the tastes he/she is looking for. The Cognac appellation has a long history and a singular heritage. There is a man or a woman behind each step of the cognac making process and incredible know-how. There are as many cognacs as people who make it.
Image: Benoit Linero
The Quick Guide To Great Cognac
Cognac is a brandy made from the white wine grapes grown in the Cognac region of France. Learn how to find great Cognac by understanding the region, the aging classifications, the major brands, and what to look for on the label.
A room for a very lucky few. The Cognac Embassy in Kosice, Slovakia with thousands of different Cognac brandies.
Recommended Reading: What Kind Of Whiskey For Whiskey Sour
We Love: Drinking Cognac In Cocktails
One of the best things about Cognac cocktails is that recipes continually evolve. From the classics to recipes created by houses such as Hineor Hennessys legendary cellar master Yann Fillioux, theres a taste profile to suit every palate.
You can even splash out any Vegas winnings on one of the worlds most expensive cocktails at the Wynn XS Nightclub. Their Louis XIII Black Pearl retails for a cool $10,000, should you win big on the tables.
Discover more about the delights of drinking Cognac in cocktails.
How Brandy Is Different From Whiskey
Some may think that brandy is a type of whiskey, but the two drinks are very different. Unlike brandy, the distilled spirit is made of fermented grain mash and can use a different variety including barley, corn, rye, and wheat. For the most part, whiskey is aged in wooden casks, generally made of white oak. Bourbon, which is a type of whiskey, needs to be aged in new, charred white oak barrels.
Whiskey and brandy are similar in alcohol content. The range of ABV for whiskey is 40 to 50 percent.
For additional info, check out this article about whiskey barrels!
Read Also: What To Mix With Kraken Rum
Why Use A Cognac Substitute
There are many reasons why you could be looking for a cognac alternative. Whether it is for cooking or mixing drinks, there is most likely a substitution that will work.
It might take a little bit of trial and error, but it is not the end of the world not to use or have this expensive liquor.
Because of the extensive distillation process, cognac tends to be relatively pricey. For this reason, many people look for affordable alternatives. Additionally, some may want to save what cognac they do have for specific occasions.
It is possible that you or someone else in your circle either does not like the taste of cognac. If a recipe calls for it, finding something to go in its place can be intimidating but possible. Depending on what you are making, a cognac replacement may even add an extra twist to your dish.
For many reasons, some people do not consume alcohol. This situation calls for a non alcoholic substitute for cognac, which is also relatively straightforward. If you do not have this spirit on hand, it is usually an easy fix.
Where Was Cognac Invented
While cognac must be produced in the Charente and Charente-Maritime départements of France to be deemed worthy of the name, its origins are a little more geographically diverse than that specific locality would have us believe. While the region had acquired a reputation for excellent wine by the 13th century, it was the Dutch who first took those wines in the 16th century and distilled them into brandwijn burnt wine. Hence the name, brandy.
The process was created to help the wine travel to the Netherlands without spoiling but they soon realised that a double distillation created a far smoother drink. The French distillers refined the process further in the 17th century, creating the Charentaise distillation still used today. Thanks to more transportation issues, they discovered that if the liquid was left in the oak casks it was further improved and could be drunk straight from the cask.
Don’t Miss: What Is The Best Extra Anejo Tequila
Understanding Cognac And Brandy
Brandy refers to any spirit that is distilled from fruit-based wine, though in general it refers to grape wines. Brady can be made from any fruit wine such as pear, plum, or apple as long as it is labeled with the fruit it is made from. The taste of brandy varies depending on the fruit it is made from and its age, but generally they are sweeter than whiskey and taste of flowers, fresh and dried fruit, and citrus zest.
Brandy must be aged in barrels and has different age designations for each level of quality.
VS Brandy must be aged no less than 2 years
VSOP Brandy must be aged no less than 4 years
XO Brandy must be aged no less than 6 years
While older brandies are certainly enjoyable sipped straight, the VS, and in many cases, the VSOP are better off mixed in tall drinks or classic cocktails. Brandy is often mixed with coke, but due to the flavor profile of brandy, it also pairs very well with citrus. Consider trying to mix it with lemonade or a lemon/lime flavored soda.
Some brands are mass produced and kept young and are best mixed regardless of the age designation, such as E& J or Christian Brothers, but there are many smaller brands that are great on their own that are aged much longer. Germain Robin is one such company.
Brandy is also a staple for cooking and is great with desserts. When cooking with brandy, only VS should be used.
When drinking it neat:
What Is A Cognac
Cognac is a distilled spirit, specifically, an exclusive type of brandy. According to French law, a bottle of cognac can only be legally called “Cognac” if it is made in the Cognac region, in the Charente and Charente-Maritime departments.
Cognac is situated in the Southwest part of France and has proximity to Bordeaux. To put it simply, all cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is cognac. It’s is very similar toChampagne since this type of sparkling wine can only be made in the Champagne region in France.
The aging process has a significant impact on the flavor of cognac. Proper aging should make cognac rich and complex. You can expect caramelized fruits, leather, spices, and citrus flavors on most cognacs.
Meanwhile, the aromas of this liquor are also extensive. One event that can attest to this is a gathering between highly-skilled cellar masters, sommeliers, and expert tasters carried out in 2019 at the International Cognac Summit.
50 experts spent 4 days smelling various cognacs. Imagine the dedication! The whole purpose of the event is to simply make a definitive guide that’ll unravel all the brandys complexity and extensive aromas.
They decided on five very notable aromas in cognacs, including vanilla, caramel, prune, orange, and apricot. Furthermore, they recorded 63 additional subtle notes.
Also Check: How Much Vodka To Bloody Mary Mix
What Are Konjac Noodles
Made from the corm of the konjac yam, also dubbed the elephant yam, konjac noodles have been a staple in Japanese and Chinese diets for centuries. To make the noodles with this ingredient, the konjac is made into a flour that gets mixed with still water and lime water, which is a solution of calcium hydroxide that helps hold the mixture together so it can be sliced into noodles.
The other common name for the konjac noodle is shirataki noodle. It means “white waterfall” in Japanese, a moniker given because the noodles look translucent and almost like cascading water when poured into a bowl. These almost clear noodles don’t have much taste. What the food lacks in flavor, it makes up for being a filling ingredient.
The Best Cognacs For Cocktails
The most important point here is this: there is no right or wrong Cognac to use in a cocktail. You might hear some say that you should only use a VS, or that an XO is too special to adulterate with other ingredients.
We have one thing to say to thisand its something weve championed for many, many years:
There are no rules about how to drink Cognac.
The only requirement is that you enjoy it. VS, VSOP, and XOs all lend themselves to mixed drinks. The fiery youth of a VS works well in cocktails with strong-tasting ingredients. A VSOP is a wonderful middle-of-the-road choice, and an XO? Well, the aged undertones and even rancio can combine with other flavors for a sublime taste sensation.
You May Like: What Can You Mix With Rum
The Rise In Popularity Of The Cognac Cocktail
In more recent times, it was probably in the USA that adding Cognac to cocktails first became truly popular. The trend was soon followed by nations across the globe. Look at the beautiful people of China sipping their Cognac cocktails in the hottest nightclubs and bars, and you instantly appreciate how true this is.
The Grapes And Their Regions
The area around the commune of Cognac, France, is divided into six grape-growing regions within the Charente and Charente-Maritime departments. Officially, the main grape varieties used in cognac must be ugni blanc , folle blanche, and colombard there are also less common grapes used in small quantities in production, including jurançon blanc, sémillon and folignan, to name a few. The most expensive fruit comes from Charentes Grande Champagne district and Petite Champagne, which straddles both Charente and Charente-Maritime.
Also Check: What Is The Best Gluten Free Vodka
What Is A Hot Toddy
Hot Toddies are a soothing warm cocktail typically made by combining hot water, honey, lemon, and a spirit such as bourbon, whiskey, or brandy. They are the perfect warm drink to enjoy on a crisp fall or winter night or if you are suffering from a cold, because it soothes the throat, body and soul, helping you to relax and uplift your mood.
What Ive discovered through years of making hot toddies is the importance of using a good quality spirit one you are happy sipping on its own. Just as I would never recommend cooking with a wine you wouldnt drink on its own, the same advice goes for the quality of spirit you use for this cocktail. This is because you arent altering the flavor much, but simply diluting it with hot water, sweetening it with honey, and infusing it with a touch of cinnamon.
What Is The Aoc Cognac
The Protected Designation of Origin of Cognac is only given to eau-de-vie from the delimited region that goes from the west of Charente Maritime to the east of the Charente. This area is based on the characteristics of the soils that influenced largely the aromas of the wine. Cognac is made of 6 different crus: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois and Bois Ordinaires. Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne are easy identifiable bytheir fineness and floral aromas. In the Borderies the aromas are sweeter and round with a touch of iris and violet. The cognac Fins Bois is known for its quick aging whether the Bons Bois are valued for its fruity notes. Finally, the Bois Ordinaires are distinguished by their terroir taste specific to sandy soils.
Don’t Miss: Where To Buy Three Olives Bubblegum Vodka
Other Types Of Brandy
Brandy is a very diverse family of spirits that goes beyond cognac. “There are a number of styles and ways to make brandy,” Erickson says. “Every producing region has their own traditions.”
There are as many different styles of brandy as there are places it’s made. Brandy de Jerez from Spain, Raki or Rakia in the Balkans and Mediterranean, and the grape-based Italian grappa are all standouts. There are also many brandies produced in California’s wine country by large and craft distillers alike. Here is a quick rundown of some of the most well known styles of brandy.
Eau de vie: French for “water of life,” eau de vie is a term that describes unaged brandy. Eau de vie is a clear spirit made to showcase the ripeness and freshness of the fruits used to produce it. This term is sometimes used to describe the fruit-based distillate before it is barrel aged.
Armagnac: Armagnac is a popular style of French brandy distilled in the Armagnac region Gascony, Southwestern France. It’s similar to cognac, but since it is produced in a different region with different traditions, has a different protected name. Compared to cognac production, armagnac brandies are produced by much smaller distilleries in smaller amounts more for local consumption.
Calvados: Made in the Calvados region of Normandy, Calvados is a French apple brandy distilled from hard apple cider. Along with Cognac and Armagnac, Calvados is a legally protected style of brandy.
Common Ways To Drink Brandy And Cognac
Because of its inherent sweetness, brandy and cognac are often served as a digestif an after dinner drink. “The iconic way to drink brandy is neat in a big snifter glass,” Erickson says. “But it’s also great served on the rocks and mixes incredibly well in cocktails.”
“In a lot of senses, I think brandy is undervalued in the mixing world,” Erickson says. “It’s great at rounding out and softening other spirits in drinks or even swapping them out entirely.” The most well-known cognac-based cocktail is the Sidecar, which mixes cognac with dry Curacao and lemon juice.
“Brandy and cognac were often used in classic cocktails from New Orleans,” Erickson says. Golden age drinks like the Sazerac were originally made with cognac before shortages led to the base spirit being switched to rye whiskey.
You May Like: Where Can I Buy Chocolate Tequila
What Glasses To Use For Drinking Cognac
Typically, youll likely see cognac being poured into large balloon-shaped brandy snifters. However, purists will argue that cognac is best served in finer tulip glasses. In both cases, the glasses offer a concave shape, which is designed to capture the aromas so that they can be appreciated.
Nevertheless, a brandy snifter, which is a great way of appreciating cognac too, does have a few shortcomings. For instance, it is usually cupped in the hand, which can warm up the spirit. Similarly, its large size means that its difficult for properly sampling small quantities.
Meanwhile, a tulip glass will feature a tall stem, which is convenient to hold and prevent warming the spirit. Furthermore, its small and carefully-designed shape will optimise the tasting process.
Should you not have access to either type of glass, small wine or even tulip-shaped champagne glasses can offer similar benefits for tasting cognac.
Otherwise, you can learn more about the best glasses to use with our full glassware guide.