Cognac is a kind of brandy processed mainly in France. The brandy is named after a French town called ‘Cognac’. French law has stated some guidelines and legal requirements for giving the name ‘cognac’ to any brandy. This drink is made with distilled wine and takes the same long maturity time like whisky. Cognac is considered a high-class brandy and preserved by connoisseurs. Usually, cognac is taken alone but various cocktails and other recipes can also be prepared with it. Some of the most common cognac recipes are cognac drinks including grand mariner and Pineau des Charentes. Cognac recipes also include sweet and savory dishes that use wine and brandy as one of the ingredient.
History of Cognac
The production of cognac has been started in 3rd century AD. The vineyard for cognac production was first planted on the banks of Charente river that later extends to Atlantic Ocean. The French town of Cognac was situated in the middle of this extended area. The distillation of wine is then started by Dutch and French people in Cognac around 12th century. In 17th century the trade of cognac had started.
Culinary Use of Cognac
- Cognac is a very fine brandy that is taken as an alcoholic drink in almost all cuisines. It is widely used to mix with other drinks to make cocktails. Not even drinks, but desserts and baked items make good use of cognac. Cakes and mousse are fondly made with cognac flavor.
- Alcohol is popularly used to make savory dishes of meat, poultry and seafood, hence cognac is one of the much loved brandy for such purposes. For making curry sauce and marinades, cognac is highly popular. Soups and stews are also flavored with cognac by the celebrity chefs.
Popular Cognac Recipes
- Grand Mariner – This is one of the most popular cognac recipes that are made by mixing the bitter orange essence with cognac.
- Herb roasted chicken with cognac – In this recipe, chicken is marinated with herbs, spices and cognac. Cognac also helps in tenderizing the chicken.
- Cognac Cheesecake – Cognac is added in the cake batter to provide an alcoholic flavor to the dish.
- Vegetable stew with cognac – Vegetables are stewed to make a healthy dish and cognac is added to flavor the stew.
- Pineau des Charentes – It is a sweet aperitif made especially at the region near to Charente River.
Cuisines Commonly Making Cognac Recipes
As cognac is produced in France, the French cuisine makes good use of this finest brandy. Many cocktails and sweet dishes are fondly made with cognac in French cuisine. Cognac is popularly used to make glazed sauces for meat, poultry and seafood. French soups and stews are also the addition to the list of cognac recipes. In America, cognac is a symbol of young and urban culture. Since 1990’s, the cognac consumers have significantly changed and it becomes the drink of youngsters and modern people. Apart from being used as an alcoholic drink, cognac is also used as a cookery ingredient in making baked as well as savory dishes. Other European cuisines also make several cognac recipes and mix this high-class brandy with various other alcohols to make well-liked cocktails.
Preferred Methods of Making Cognac Recipes
- Baked – Cognac cakes and puddings are made with baking method.
- Mixed – In several world famous cocktails, cognac is mixed as a fine drink.
- Glazed – Cognac is often added to make glazed sauces for meat, chicken and fish.
- Marinated – Cognac lends itself to the marinade recipes for meats as well as poultry and fish.
Nutritive Value of Cognac
Like other alcoholic drinks, cognac is full of carbohydrates and proteins. Cognac and cognac recipes are always considered full of calories. Moderate drinking of alcohol is recommended to maintain the blood pressure as well as to prevent heart diseases.
Consumption Criteria of Cognac
Due to excess calories, cognac recipes are not recommended for weight conscious people. The excess drinking of cognac is linked with the danger of certain cancers. It may also lead to obesity and triggers diabetes. Hypoglycemia is also an ailment that may be associated with the excessive drinking of cognac as well as other alcoholic drinks.
Buying and Storing of Cognac
Cognac is a very expensive alcohol that may cost between hundred to thousand dollars. It should always be purchased from premium stores. There are various classic as well as premium brands of cognac available all over the world. Grading is the most important characteristic of the drink which should be checked before buying any bottle of cognac. It is also important to familiarize yourself with all the attributes regarding the cognac -such as, the place where the wine is being distilled. For a novice, online search is a great help as there are various websites that may provide useful information about the buying of cognac as well as the process of its production. Cognac should be stored in right conditions in order to preserve its robust flavor for several years. It is recommended to store the bottles in a cool dark place. Always keep the bottles in standing position so that cork particles should not enter the drink. Sealed cognac bottles can be stored in room temperature as long as they are not consumed, but once opened should not be stored for more than six months as there are chances of oxidization of the alcohol.
Types of Cognac
Cognac is classified according to the grading. The official grades are as follows:
- VS – This is a three star grading that gives the status of ‘Very Special’ to the cognac. The brandy is kept in cask for at least two years to get this VS grading.
- VSOP – It gives the grading ‘Very Special Old Pale’. This grading is given to the brandy that has 4 year storage life in cask.
- XO- It means ‘Extra Old’. This type of brandy is stored in casks for minimum six years or maximum up to 20 years.
Cognac can also be classified according to the ‘crus’ (a place where grapes are grown for the production of wine). These classifications are:
- Grande champagne – It has floral flavor and considered finest cognac.
- Petite champagne – This variety is generally similar to the Grande champagne.
- Fins bois – It’s a fruity flavored drink with little oil.
- Borderies – This cognac is nutty flavored.
Bois ordinarie and Bons bois are the other two varieties of cognac that are produced in high volumes.
Troncais oak wood is generally used to make cognac barrels due to the reason that this wood imparts instant flavor to the cognac.