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What is Cognac?

An Insight Into What Exactly is Cognac

Cognac is one of the best varieties of Brandy produced in France. This article gives you a brief summary about this sinful alcoholic beverage.
Ishani Chatterjee Shukla
Last Updated: Mar 7, 2018
All alcoholic drinks, rightly used, are good for body and soul alike, but as a restorative of both there is nothing like brandy.
~ George Saintsbury
Cognac, is an alcoholic beverage that is distilled from very specific grape varieties. They are grown only in a particular region of France. This favorite poison of many, derives its name from the French town of Cognac whose surrounding regions are hosts to the vineyards, where grapes used for making this beverage are grown. There are very strict legislations regarding the production and marketing of this drink. Only the wine distilled from certain specific grapes that grow in the officially demarcated area surrounding the town of Cognac, can be called by this name. Similarly, wine manufactured using the same methods, distilled from similar grapes that grow in any other region of the world cannot be called cognac.
It is made from a blend of very specific varieties of grapes such as Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanc, and Colombard. Folignan, Blanc Ramé, and Jurancon blanc grape varieties can also be used, but it is legally mandatory that the blend of the former and latter grape varieties should contain at least 90% of the former, for the beverage to be recognized as a cognac. The districts that are legally and officially recognized as producers of this beverage includes Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Bon Bois, Fins Bois, Borderies, and Bois Ordinaire.
The extremely dry and sharply acidic taste of the grapes help in the aging and distillation process. The juice extracted after pressing the grapes is allowed to ferment for a couple of weeks. The fermentation process is carried on by using wild yeast and no additional sulfur or sugar is added to this fermented liquid. After it has fermented completely, the liquor is distilled twice in copper stills whose dimensions are prescribed by regulatory legislations. On completion of the distillation process, the resulting spirit is then packed into oak barrels and left to age for at least two years before bottling.
The color of the final drink can range anywhere between golden amber to a dark caramel brown. The discrepancy in color arises because of the type of wood used for making the barrels in which this spirit is aged. Darker wood imparts a deeper color and vice versa.
Is it same as Brandy?
It is a variety of brandy that is made from a set of specific grape varieties and manufactured in the geographic area and wine-producing region that surrounds the French town, Cognac, and which falls within the jurisdiction of the Departments of Charente and the Charente-Maritime, which function under the government of France. The methods used for the fermentation, distillation, and aging process are the same as brandy. The alcohol content of the final spirit (between 35%-60%) is also more or less same as regular brandy.
I guess that pretty much answers what cognac is without delving much into the minute technical details of processing, manufacturing, and legislation that goes behind the creation of this amazing beverage. As a parting note, I would like to quote Ambrose Bierce from his satirical work The Devil's Dictionary as a tribute to brandy in general:
BRANDY, n. A cordial composed on one part thunder-and-lightning, one part remorse, two parts bloody murder, one part death-hell-and-the-grave, and four parts clarified Satan.
Bottle of brandy
Bottle of Cognac
Wine Barrels
Casks In Wine Cellar And Bottle
Big And Small Wine Casks
Wine Cellar
Wine Barrels In An Aging Cellar
Oak Wine Barrels