Drinkology November 2010

Cognac is not for everyone. It is not even for almost everyone. This lush, smoky, liquid amber beverage is for discerning palates only. You’ve been curious about it for some time but never took the plunge to actually experience its goodness. Perhaps there is something too mysterious about Cognac that keeps it just slightly outside of your libation arm’s reach. A little demystification: Cognac started as “Brandywine” in the 17th century when Dutch merchants found adding water to certain French wine, and later brandy, made for more efficient transport, especially when casked, which they also found improved the taste with age.

While Cognac has an overriding characteristic, appellations range from maker to maker, and is influenced by factors like age, handling, curing and ingredients. Like wine, part of the fun is exploring the varieties until you find one that suits your tastes. We suggest Louis Royer Force 53° High Strength VSOP Fine Champagne ($55).

Age Has Everything To Do With It:
? V.S. (Very Special), which can be sold at the age of 2 years
? V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale), 5 years of age at least
? Napoléon and X.O. (Extra Old), at least 4 years old, but often much older