The crash course of cognac

The Crash course of Cognac

Cognac, which has become a true symbol of luxury and traditional French craftsmanship, is a liquor that has seduced many palates around the world over the years.

However, it is curious to note that many French people know little about the Charentais vineyard and its precious productions. Indeed, according to recent statistics from the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), nearly 97.6% of cognac is consumed abroad, in nearly 160 countries, representing an annual turnover of 3.2 billion euros for the industry in 2021.

However, despite this growing global popularity, understanding the different classifications of cognac can be complex for consumers. The aging references displayed on labels are not always easy to interpret, which can make purchasing and tasting confusing for some. Here is a guide to help you quickly understand the world of cognac.

Cognac is a brandy that has been made using ancestral know-how dating back to the 16th century. It is made from a subtle blend of various white wine brandies, distilled twice in Charentais stills to preserve the aromatic richness of the fruit and the freshness of the wine. Then, it is aged in French oak barrels for at least two years, giving cognac its complexity and unique aromas.

 

cours intensif sur le cognac

Becoming a cognac connoisseur in a week is an ambitious challenge, but here are some steps you can follow to quickly acquire basic knowledge on the subject:

  • Understand the basics: Learn what cognac is. It is a brandy produced in the Cognac region of France. Familiarize yourself with types of cognac, such as VS (Very Special), VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale), and XO (Extra Old)
  • Learn about production regions: Understand the different cognac production regions, such as Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, and Bons Bois. Each of these regions produces cognacs with distinct characteristics.

 

cognac

  • Explore grape varieties: Learn about the grape varieties used to produce cognac, primarily Ugni Blanc. Understand how these varieties influence the taste of cognac.
  • Familiarize yourself with the production process: Learn the stages of cognac production, including distillation, aging in oak barrels, and blending processes.
  • Tasting: Practice tasting cognac. Use a tulip glass to release aromas. Learn to look at the color, smell the aromas, and taste the flavors.

 

cognac

  • Take notes on your tastings: Make notes on each cognac you taste. This will help you remember the specific characteristics of each product. While cognac is typically enjoyed neat, a drop of water at the aperitif allows for fruitier, floral, and spicy aromas. Similarly, adding two ice cubes, which will slowly melt, dilutes the cognac to reveal new refreshing aromas at each tasting stage.
  • Read books on the subject: Find books on cognac that offer detailed information on its history, production, and different varieties.

 

cognac

  • Attend tastings: If possible, participate in cognac tastings. This will allow you to expand your palate and learn from experts.
  • Research online: Explore online resources, such as blogs, forums, and specialized websites, for additional information and tips from enthusiasts.
  • Practice moderation: Cognac is an alcoholic beverage, so make sure to consume it in moderation. The goal is to appreciate quality rather than quantity. 

    Remember that becoming a true expert takes time, but with a week of intense immersion, you can acquire a knowledge base on cognac.

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