Cognac is a noble drink. It is not suitable for every occasion, and only with the right tasting can you appreciate its unsurpassed taste and rich aroma. Some of our compatriots are convinced that they know how to drink brandy - and they eat it with lemon. In fact, this tradition, introduced by Emperor Nicholas II, completely contradicts the culture of using this elite drink: the lemon with its sharp smell is interrupted by the subtle aroma of alcohol and dulls the taste buds. Traditions of brandy use are connected with the desire to feel its organoleptic qualities as fully as possible.
How to determine the quality of brandy
Cognac got its name in honor of the settlement of the same name in France, where it was originally started to be produced. So far in this country only winemakers who live in the respective provinces and produce a drink from local grapes have the right to call grape brandy brandy. Ordinary varieties are aged in oak barrels from 3 to 5 years, collectible - more than 6 years. The longer the period of exposure, the richer the bouquet and pleasant aftertaste, the color of the aged drink is darker than the young. The quality of brandy in France is carefully monitored.
These requirements and prohibitions do not apply to other countries in whose territories they also produce strong alcohol from grape raw materials by distillation. On the territory of the post-Soviet space, many manufacturers called and continue to call such drinks cognacs, labeling the products with asterisks depending on the exposure. However, the quality of these drinks may be different. Some are able to contend with brandy made in France, others are low-quality alcohol with a strong odor and an unpleasant aftertaste, tinted with caramel or, even worse, with artificial colors. In the circumstances, it is important to know how to determine the quality of cognac, so as not to choke on it, tasting it, and not to portray that you are enjoying it, afraid to appear like a person who cannot appreciate the taste of elite alcohol.
- Touch the glass on the outside, leaving a fingerprint at the level of the drink. Look at it from the other side through the liquid. If the brandy is not tinted with caramel and has no impurities, the imprint will be clear, otherwise its image will seem vague to you.
- Slowly twist a brandy glass in your hands, tilting it just a little. On the walls are formed drips - "cognac legs." If they disappear almost instantly - you are dealing with a young drink, if they hold out for more than 15 seconds, the exposure of the drink is about 20 years, or even more. On average, the “legs” should hold on the walls for about 5 seconds - for good cognac, this is enough.
- Sniff cognac. If you feel a harsh alcohol smell, trust your sense of smell: good cognac smells different.
What to do if it turned out that under the guise of a noble drink you were sold an ordinary brandy? It may be advisable to use it for making cocktails, the recipes of which will be given below, or to drink while eating a lemon, - for such a case, this “wrong” snack will be useful.
Basic rules for the use of brandy
If you are convinced that you are dealing with a collection of brandy, drinking it wrong will be a blasphemy. In this case, you should be aware of the culture of the use of this noble drink and adhere to established traditions. All of them make sense, because they help to taste the drink as best as possible.
- The rich and multifaceted aroma of cognac is one of its most valuable qualities. Special glasses called sniffers (from English to sniff, which means “sniff”) help to prevent volatilization of the released ethers and to feel the delicate bouquet. They have a rounded shape, tapering upwards. Most often they are on a low stem, but sometimes even without it (such glasses are popularly called “tumblers”). Some serve cognac in tasting tulip-shaped glasses. This is not a violation of etiquette. The volume of cognac glasses ranges from 150 ml to 400 ml, but the most common vessels with a capacity of 200 ml.
- Fill the glasses by about a quarter, that is, approximately to the middle of the convex part of it. Standard portion of drink - 50 ml.
- Hold the glass so that the foot is between the middle and index fingers, and the bottom of it lies flat in the palm. The warmth of his hands is warmed until the glass ceases to appear cool.
- Cognac is served not in bottles, but in small decanters with a lid. This rule is violated most often.
- The optimal temperature for tasting brandy is 20-25 degrees. If you keep the drink in the room, it will just be the right temperature. The heat of the palm is enough for its delicate aroma to be fully revealed.
- Before you take the first sip, it is recommended to feel the multistage aroma of the drink. First, it is inhaled from a distance of 5-10 cm, at this time the vanilla notes are clearly distinguished. Near the very edge of the glass there is a flower and fruit bouquet. Most often it sounds fake, honey, violet, apricot and pink notes. You will hear the new chord already taking the first sip: this gamma will be difficult, with distinct notes of port wine.
- They drink brandy in small and slow sips, holding the drink in the mouth and letting it spread along the tongue. Its taste is revealed gradually, shimmering with different faces, like the peacock's tail (this is exactly what the described effect is called). The first sip is taken less than the subsequent ones, its purpose is to prepare taste buds for the perception of the rich taste range of the drink.
- Cognac is not washed down, but if a tasting of several of its varieties is planned, then it would not hurt to serve clean water. A sip of water will help clean the taste buds. Instead of water, you can use black coffee.
- Cognac is served as a digestif, that is, after the main meal. Given that they do not drink brandy on an empty stomach, and in small portions, snacks to him, according to etiquette, do not have to be served. In France, on this occasion, the formula of “three C” is derived: café (coffee), cognac (cognac), cigare (cigar). Sometimes it is supplemented with another “variable” - chocolat (chocolate). First, they drink a cup of coffee in order to clear the taste buds and prepare for tasting cognac. Then enjoy the elite alcohol. Finally smoke a cigar. You can put a chocolate slice under the tongue and take a sip of brandy - it will acquire new flavors. Other appetizers in the homeland of elite cognac are not served to this drink.
Ordinary brandy is valued less highly. They are allowed to drink at business meetings, in the company of friends. In this case, more drink will be drunk, and not necessarily on a full stomach. In some countries, for example in Armenia, brandy is considered a wedding drink, it must be put on the table on the occasion of this solemn event. In such situations, you cannot do without a snack, having limited yourself to coffee, chocolate and a cigar.
How to snack cognac
As a snack to cognac is best suited:
- fruits (except tropical): apples, pears, peaches, apricots;
- hard cheese (preference is given to varieties that do not have a spicy taste);
- low fat liver pate;
- olives with or without stones, which can also be used to make canapés;
- nuts, including candied or glazed with chocolate;
- assorted chocolates;
- ice cream and whipped cream;
- coffee and chocolate flavored desserts, including various kinds of nuts.
If you really want to expand this list, you can include in it:
- lean meat;
- cold cuts;
- vegetable cutting;
- salted salmon, trout and other valuable varieties of fish.
Expanding the list is advisable only if it is a question of using brandy at a banquet, which in itself runs counter to European tradition.
By the feast it would be reasonable to serve ordinary brandy. It is also used for cocktails - collectible drinks prefer not to mix.
- cognac - 20 ml;
- cream - 40 ml;
- peach liqueur - 20 ml;
- banana - 50 g;
- dark chocolate - 10 g.
Method of preparation:
- Cut the banana into circles, put it in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- Put frozen bananas in the blender bowl, add cream to them. Whisk.
- Add alcoholic beverages and whisk with a blender again.
- Pour the drink into a cocktail glass.
- Chop the chocolate grated, sprinkle the cocktail with the resulting chips.
The cocktail has a mild creamy taste with a banana-peach notes, and many women like it.
Cocktail “White delight”
- cognac - 25 ml;
- milk - 130 ml;
- banana - 150 g;
- ice cream (cream or ice cream) - 0, 25 kg.
Method of preparation:
- In a blender bowl, combine milk and ice cream, whisk.
- Wash the banana, peel it, cut it into round slices and add to the rest of the ingredients.
- Grind a banana while blending the contents of the blender tank.
- Pour in brandy, mix with a blender again.
- Fill glasses with a cocktail. Use fruit slices for decoration.
The cocktail is thick, it can replace dessert. Serve it with a straw and a spoon for ice cream.
Chocolate Dream Cocktail
- cognac - 30 ml;
- fatty cream - 30 ml;
- chocolate liqueur - 30 ml;
- ice - to taste.
Method of preparation:
- Combine cream, brandy and liqueur, whisk with a blender or with a shaker.
- Add crushed ice, whisk again.
- Pour into a chilled cocktail glass.
You can decorate the drink with chocolate chips.
Green Dragon Cocktail
- cognac - 40 ml;
- absinthe - 10 ml;
- peppermint liquor - 10 ml.
Method of preparation:
- Pour the beverage into the shaker's container and shake well.
- Fill a glass with a cocktail.
You can decorate a cocktail with a sprig of mint or burnt sugar. He likes lovers of hard liquor. For fans of the "Green Dragon" are both ladies and representatives of the stronger sex.
Cocktail “Cola with Cognac”
- cognac - 50 ml;
- Coca-Cola - 50 ml;
- ice cubes - to taste.
Method of preparation:
- Fill a tall glass by half with ice cubes.
- Pour in brandy.
- Add chilled cola. It is important that the bottle not be opened in advance.
- Stir drinks with a straw and serve a cocktail.
The tradition to dilute cognac with cola and ice is common in America.
Cognac - one of the most noble alcoholic beverages. It is worthy to taste it properly, enjoying the aroma and long aftertaste. Ordinary varieties of the drink can be used to prepare alcoholic cocktails.