Week 28 in the Year of Drinking adventurously. Cognac.
I’m back on terra firma this week. Cognac is a favorite of mine. I wouldn’t call myself a connoisseur by any means, but having been introduced to it a few years back while on winter vacation in Vermont, it’s become a staple of my inventory.
The author inserted this peculiarly French drink at this time of year in honor of Bastille Day which falls on the fourteenth. Again, summer is not exactly the season for brandy, but… After a night out on the yacht with the chill sea breeze wafting under your silk cravat, a fine cognac will warm your cockles. (Cockles?)
Ha! Isn’t that about how you imagine a cognac drinker? That or drawing on a fine Cuban cigar while sitting in a leather wing back chair in the oak paneled library of a gentlemen’s club? Throw all of that out the window.
“Reading in bed can be heaven, assuming you can get just the right amount of light on the page and aren’t prone to spilling your coffee or cognac on the sheets.” — Stephen King
Cognac is heavenly. As well as reading in bed. I have two cognacs on hand currently — the Courvoisier above and Remy Martin champagne cognac. The Remy is a blend of cognacs distilled from two varietals of grapes (including champagne grapes) and is lighter on the palate than the Courvoisier. Both are VSOP cognacs. I will refer you to “the book” for the lengthy explanation but in short here’s how cognac is classified.
Cognac varieties are classified by age. VS for Very Special, aged a minimum of two years, VSOP for Very Special Old Pale, aged a minimum of four years and XO for Extra Old, which mustn’t contain a blend of anything less than six years in age. The Hors d’age category refers to “beyond age’ for even older types of XO cognacs.
Cognac is a brandy — the distilled liquor from fermented grapes– and only the best parts of specific varieties of grapes. Just like champagne can only be called such if it originated from the Champagne region of France, cognac must come from Cognac, also a region of France. It is an ‘appellation d’origine controllee.’ In other words, it’s the law. And in case you were wondering the ‘champagne’ cognac designation is legit. I checked the Remy Martin website.
The grapes are pressed and the juice is fermented for three weeks by the wild yeast native to the region. After fermentation, the distillation is done in traditional copper pot stills
Next the cognac is aged in oak casks for the specified length of time. VS, VSOP, and so forth…
How to enjoy cognac… There are a few cocktails you can make with cognac — the classic sidecar, for example. But for me, there’s just one way to drink cognac. At the end of the day, take a snifter or a wine glass and fill it with two fingers of the cognac of your choice. Swirl. Sip. Enjoy. And if you like crawl into bed with a good book.
Now straighten that cravat, try not to drop cigar ash on the deck chairs and sashay over to see how Lovey… I mean Lula enjoyed her cognac.