How not to blush in front of a Frenchman: Five myths about brandy
ROSkachestvo promised to check all the cognacs on the Russian market: from foreign premium brands to the cheapest varieties that are bottled in “chekushki” and “scale”. Erin Tuzmukhamedov, one of the two accredited cognac ambassadors in Russia, told about the fact that stereotypes about cognac are a common myth and that is true.
Myth 1. Cognac stinks bugs
Erkin Tuzmukhamedov: I have never tried bedbugs. Is that only forest. The taste and smell of forest bugs, which are often caught in raspberries, are absolutely disgusting … There is nothing like this in any cognac.
Cognac is a drink that is aged in a barrel. The process of forming a bouquet of this drink is very complicated. There are different grape varieties. These varieties ripen in six zones, and each zone gives its own aromatic profile.
Then, when you made a wine, you can distill it [into a strong drink] in different ways. You can distill on the yeast sediment (then you get a more fragrant and thin alcohol), and you can distill without yeast sediment – then you get a sharper and thicker smell. Another [one odor factor] is endurance. The longer the cognac is aged, the more various aromatic substances are formed in it.
Myth 2. Cognac, which stood in the barrel for a long time, has a taste of wood.
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Erkin Tuzmukhamedov: This statement depends on the style of the house-manufacturer. There are famous cognac houses that use barrels not less than 20 years old – during this period the barrel gives up all its wood completely [that is, there will be no wood taste – approx. Ed.]
There are houses (for example, the most famous cognac house in the world), using barrels in which there are a lot of tannins. Therefore, the cognac they get sharp and rough [to taste]. It all depends on the skill of the winemaker and the style of the house, which develops for centuries. Stylistics include: grape harvesting in a specific zone, distillation (with or without yeast) and the use of barrels.
Myth 3. Any Russian brandy is worse than French
Erkin Tuzmukhamedov: No, not any. Our state strictly controls all stages of cognac production. For violation of very serious fines.
But let’s start with the fact that Cognac is one of the first geographical names; one of the geographic brands. Therefore, cognac can be produced only in Charentes [department of France, where the city of Cognac is located – approx. Ed.] What we have called brandy, has no right to be so called.
In the Russian technology, which is also used in Armenia and Moldova, the majority of cognacs are prepared using the “tank aging” method. This means the following: huge tanks are taken (from several dozen to 100 tons), grape spirit is poured into them, and then oak logs (or boards – as you please) are thrown. All this is heated. And thus it turns out a certain product that is saturated with tannins. He has nothing to do with cognac.
On the other hand, in Russia there are worthy producers of real cognac prepared according to the classical technology, that is, with aging in oak barrels. But this is a premium segment. There are very few such manufacturers.
Myth 4. The darker the brandy, the older it is.
Erkin Tuzmukhamedov: If you go back to the barrels of one of the most famous cognac houses, then he has cognacs that are pale. Even if you look at the most popular category of [this] VSOP Cognac [Very Superior Old Pale – approx. Ed.], then he is also pale. The fact is that about 100 years ago, burnt sugar was used to adjust beverages. Therefore, for all spirits – whether it is whiskey, brandy or rum – the color is adjusted using burnt sugar [rather than aging].
Myth 5. Cognac is better to eat lemon
Erkin Tuzmukhamedov: The French have such a perfect combination – “four C”. These are: cognac (cognac), chocolat (chocolate), café (coffee) and cigar (cigar). All these elements of luxury begin with a French letter “c”. In this combination there are a lot of aromatic molecules that intersect with each other.
As for lemon as a snack. I really do not want to mention the film “Matilda”, but it is known that the main male character of this film was rather weak to alcohol. His wife, being German, was worried that the main character of the film … would not be booze. In the mornings (there are some historical testimonies, I don’t know, really, how true they are), the main character of the film poured brandy into a teapot. And drank from there. Lemon and coffee strongly discourage odor. Therefore, [the emperor] ate “tea” with a slice of lemon sprinkled with sugar and ground coffee. Snack called “Nikolashka”. However, if you tell a Frenchman that lemon goes well with brandy, he will look at you like an idiot.