What is cognac?
Cognac is perhaps one of the most luxurious and opulent drinks that one can ever have the pleasure to drink, and has remained a staple favourite of those who appreciate the finer things in life. For those of us who like to know a little bit about what we drink, we thought we’d take a little time to familiarise ourselves with some facts about cognac that perhaps we had not previously considered.
What is cognac?
Cognac is a type of brandy, and interestingly it was named after a town in France; aptly named ‘Cognac’. In order for a drink to bear the coveted and well-regarded name ‘Cognac’ it must fulfill certain requirements. For a start, the way in which it is produced must meet certain requirements stated by law. One such requirement is the choice of grape used in order to make the drink. The following grape varieties are accepted as being the correct grapes with which to produce cognac:
- Ugni Blanc
- Folle Blanche
- Jurançon blanc
- Meslier Saint-François
How does one make cognac?
Also known in some quarters as eau du vie, cognac is produced by twice distilling a white wine produced using any of the grape varieties listed in the previous section. Once the distillation has taken place, the cognac needs to be aged for a minimum of two years before public sale and consumption. Furthermore it is not to be aged with any laxity – it must be aged in Limousin or Tronçais oak casks.
Before the cognac goes on sale it is generally blended – the cognac that most people drink will actually be a blend of a number of different ages.
What do cognac grades mean?
There are three main grades used in conjunction with cognac. They are:
- XO: XO stands for “extra old” and this grade of cognac is just that – extremely old and aged. In order to qualify as an XO cognac, the beverage has to have been aged for at least six years, although it has generally been aged for longer.
- V.S.O.P: This acronym stands for “very superior old pale” and this grade is used to describe a blend of cognac where the youngest brandy used within the blend has been cask stored for a minimum of four years with the actual cask being far older.
- V.S.: Standing for “very special”, V.S. describes a blend in which the youngest brandy has been aging for at least two years. This grade is also frequently referred to as 3 stars.