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Blog posts of '2020' 'February'

What's the Difference Between Cognac and Brandy?

Victor Hugo called cognac the "liquor of the gods." It's become known as a symbol of French luxury, the best brandy money can buy (yes, cognac is a brandy). Here's a primer on the liquors.

Where do they come from?

Cognac must come from the Cognac region in Southwest France, which is known for its superior terroir (the soil, climate, and topography that contribute to grape-growing conditions).

Brandy can come from anywhere in the world.

How are they made?

Brandy generally refers to a distilled spirit made from fermented fruit juice. It can be produced using grapes or fruit. (Calvados, for instance, is an apple brandy from the Normandy region in France).

Cognac, meanwhile, must be made from white grapes from one of six different terroirs; the Ugni Blanc grape variety is its primary ingredient, and grapes from "Grande Champagne" terroir are the most coveted. The liquid must be distilled twice, and its distillation season lasts from October 1 through March 31.

What about blending and aging?

After distillation, the liquid is blended and aged, which is what really makes cognac special. At Hennessy, for example, a tasting committee of 7 people meets from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to taste about 40 different samples of "eaux de vie," as the individual distilled spirits known before blending. It takes 10 years of training before one can join the committee, according to Jordan Bushell, the brand's national ambassador.

How to Host a Wine Tasting Party at Home

 


Here we go!

Step 1: Pick a theme

When planning a wine tasting party you’ll want to pick a theme. What kinds of wines do you like to try? There’s no right answer to pleasing all your guests, so make sure to give them a few diverse options. Everyone will appreciate the variety and you have a better chance of finding something for everyone.

Step 2: Choose the food

You shouldn’t be eating during the wine tasting, other than the bread or crackers that will be needed to cleanse your palate. So decide whether you want to give your guests a light meal before the tasting, serve dinner, or do appetizers or desserts after the tasting. Ideally, some sort of food should be provided so your guests don’t get drunk while tasting the wines.

Step 3: Gather your supplies

It goes without question that Coravin will be the star of your wine tasting.  With Coravin the wine will never be tossed away when the party’s over and you can ensure everyone has a seamless experience when tasting. Do we hear a wine tasting part two?

Aside from your Coravin, you’ll need longer, less oval-shaped glasses for white wines and rounder, larger glasses for reds. Keep in mind the glasses should have stems so your guests don’t warm their drinks with their hands. You’ll also need a spittoon. This can either come in the form of a large bowl in the center of the group or as an individual cup for each guest. You’ll need an ice bucket for chilling the white wine to avoid running to the fridge, white tablecloth or white napkins to help your guests see the color profiles of your wines, and an aerator or decanter to help bring out the flavors in your red wine.

Step 4: Invite your friends

Send out your invites and gather all the wine lovers! Keep in mind that a good time to host your guests would be around 4pm when they haven’t had dinner yet or just after dinner when they’ve eaten, at around 9pm. It’s best to gather before or after dinner because you really shouldn’t be eating during the tasting. Eating will ruin the flavor of the wine.

5: Enjoy!

It’s finally time to explore your wines, so put everything out on the table and get excited for the night! Go for some wine tasting techniques like swirling the wine around in the glass to let it “breathe” and encourage your guests to smell the wine to get a better sense of the flavor. Avoid having flowers or scented candles out in the room as those strong aromas could make it difficult for your guests to recognize the flavors of their wine. After that, your guests should take a small sip of the wine, swirl it around their mouths for a couple seconds, and either swallow or spit it out in the bowl or their cup. You should start off trying the lightest wines and working your way to the darkest ones. If you have dessert wine on the menu, you should taste it last, even if it’s a lighter color than the other red wines.

And there you have it! Step by step instructions on how to host a proper wine tasting party. Do you feel like a wine master yet? Just remember, have fun!

Champagne vs Prosecco.. Cheer!!