GUIDELINE SELECTION GUIDE: INSTRUCTIONS FOR NEOPHITES
What to look for when buying brandy and what expert advice should you stick to in order to enjoy the best brandy for less money?
Mikhail Bednyakov, the chief editor of the magazine “Alcoholic beverages”, prepared for readers of the portal “Roskachestvo” a memo on the choice and rules for the use of brandy.
All the requirements of the Technical Regulations of the Customs Union “Food products in terms of its labeling” apply to the marking of cognac. And this means that when choosing a brandy, first of all it is worth paying attention to the fact that the label and the counter label contain all the necessary standard information in Russian: from the product name, volume, production date to the manufacturer’s address. The absence of any of these data should make you think about the legality of the product.
To determine what kind of brandy is needed, you should pay attention to the terminology and designations that relate to brandy, because the price and quality are influenced not least by the endurance of brandy distillates: the larger it is, the taste and higher price. Years of exposure must match the name of the brandy and the number of stars.
Such labels as “three-year-old cognac”, “four-year-old cognac” or “five-year-old cognac” may be present on the label. This means that the brandy distillate was aged for at least three, four or five years, respectively, in oak barrels, oak bottles or in enameled tanks with oak riveting.
Today, the minimum retail price (MRC) of brandy on the store shelf is 371 rubles for a 0.5 liter bottle. However, this figure does not reflect the real picture.
According to experts, the MRC for Russian cognac, taking into account excise taxes and production technology, should be no less than 450 rubles. However, the price in the case of cognac is a very unreliable benchmark: for the same price, you can buy quite a decent drink, and outright muck. To find real and cheap cognac for 500 rubles today is really possible, but the price below this should at least be alerted.
A few years ago, the issue of fakes was incredibly acute. But recently, tremendous measures have been taken in the fight against counterfeiting, such as the introduction of the Unified State Automated Information System (United State Automated Information System) at retail and strengthening the work of law enforcement agencies to curb clandestine production. All this led to the fact that there was legalization on the alcohol market – fake vodka, for example, on the market almost disappeared.
With brandy, the situation is somewhat more complicated: there is a great temptation to make money on this product. Therefore, the probability to buy fake brandy still remains.
The risk of facing a fake will be lower if you buy brandy in specialized, branded stores. It is necessary to carefully study the label: any violation, negligence should be a reason to think. Many Russian manufacturers today use branded bottles, so you should go to the manufacturer’s website and see how it should look for this brand.
It also makes sense to pay attention to the color of the drink: the faster the shutter speed, the brighter the brandy. And if, for example, you find that brandy with three asterisks has the dark color of buckwheat honey, then consider whether it is worth buying such a product.
DISPLAY Cognac: a guide for neophyte
Cognac production is an art. Of course, there are people who have a unique innate sense and are able to admire ballet from the first time, to understand great paintings and to feel the music subtly. However, most of us need training, knowledge and experience in order to begin to really understand any art.
All this fully applies to cognac: each can understand some nuances, but deep immersion requires study, experience and, most importantly, desire.
Cognac – a noble drink. He does not tolerate fuss. Perhaps, more precisely, than in the phrase attributed to Churchill, you cannot formulate: “A good cognac is like a woman. Do not try to take it by storm. Keep it warm in your hands before you put your lips on it. ” Without this “ritual” to evaluate brandy will not work.
Acquaintance with cognac consists of three stages: “eye”, “nose” and “mouth”. On the first, cognac is evaluated visually: the drink should have a shade that matches the shutter speed, be perfectly transparent, oily, with a lively sheen, and the drips (the so-called “legs”) on the glass are embossed. The longer they keep on the glass “legs”, the more sustained drink.
About viscosity drink speak its viscosity and color. On the walls of the glass, the drink leaves well-visible drips – “legs.” The slower they flow along the walls of the glass, the older the drink.
The aroma of brandy is revealed gradually, so for the first acquaintance brandy, poured into a glass, is immediately brought to the nose at a distance of 5–15 cm, trying to catch the first wave.