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Drink Dictionary Word
Cognac
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Category: Brandy & Cognac
Alc/vol: 40% to 72%

"All cognacs are brandies, but not all brandies are cognacs". Cognac is a brandy produced in the region of Cognac, France. Grapes grown in this region are picked and pressed to extract the juice. The juice is fermented to make wine that is weak in alcohol (6% to 8% alc/vol) and very acidic. The wine is then distilled twice to become young cognac. The young cognac is aged in oak casks, for a period of time, before being bottled and sold. The following indications on the label tell you how long it has been aged:

1 to 5 Stars, VS.........................................Minimum 2.5 years
5 Stars, Superieur......................................Minimum 3.5 years
Rare, Reserve, Vieux, VSOP.....................Minimum 4.5 years Grande Reserve.........................................Minimum 5.5 years
Extra, XO, Vieille Reserve, Napoleon, Tres Vieux...............................Minimum 6.5 years

Any of these cognacs may (and often do) contain spirits varying between 10 and 50 years old. However, it is the age of the youngest spirit used that is considered by law.

V.S. - Very Superior
V.O. - Very Old
V.S.O.P. - Very Superior Old Product
X.O. - Extra Old

There are 6 sub-regions in cognac:
Bois Ordinaire, Bon Bois, Fins Bois, Borderies, Petite Champagne and Grande Champagne (the latter two should not be confused with 'Champagne' the french sparkling wine produced in the region of Champagne in France).

On certain bottles of cognac the words 'Fine Champagne' may appear. It means that this product is a blend of Grande Champagne cognac and Petite Champagne cognac. Fine Champagne cognac must contain at least 50% Grande Champagne cognac.

Cognac is light to medium amber (never judge a cognac by its color). Best enjoyed straight up at room temperature in a cognac snifter, in mixed drinks, tall drinks and cocktails. Blends well with fruit juices, dairy products, carbonated drinks, coffee and most liqueurs.


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