National Cognac Day on June 4 invites you to have a laid-back day whilst enjoying one of the finest alcoholic drinks. Cognac, which originates from a town of the same name in France, is a type of brandy that many enjoy due to its distilled and fine taste. The beverage speaks of a splendor-rich atmosphere in which conversations are punctuated with sophisticated and intellectual topics. Like all things magnificent, cognac, too, has specific standardizations that must be met in order for a brandy to even be recognized as cognac in the first place. For example, a true cognac must always come from the vineyards of the six certified regions in France.
History of National Cognac Day
Cognac’s origins date all the way back to the 16th century. Dutch settlers came to Cognac, a French region, to buy wood, wine, and salt. However, a problem cropped up when it came to exporting the wine back home. The preservation method had to suit the length of the journey as well as the time it took to be sold and consumed later on. Seeing this, the settlers began preserving the wine by distilling it with eau-de-vie. While this method worked, the settlers realized that distilling it twice made for a much finer and tastier product. Thus, brandy was invented.
While brandy is made all over the world, only the brandy coming out of the six designated areas of France can be called cognac. The Cognac region itself covers two different regions in Western France — one is Charente-Maritime and the other is Charente. The six areas are divided according to the aging quality and potential. There are certain laws and measures that must be abided by for a brandy to be labeled as cognac, and all such rules are controlled by the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC). First and foremost, only specific types of grapes have to be used to make cognac, and one of the most common types of grapes to be used is called Ugni Blanc. Once the wine is made, it must be distilled in an ‘alambic charentais’, which is basically a copper pot with a boiler and serpentine condensation tube. Later on, the cognac has to be fermented and stored in special French oak barrels for at least 30 months, although many wineries age the cognac for more than 30 months. The longer the cognac ferments, the more complexities and aromas it develops. Cognac’s age is determined through an unofficial grading system — for example, VS (Very Special) is aged for at least two years in oak, or Napoleon or XO (Extra Old) is aged for at least 10 years in oak.
National Cognac Day timeline
Dutch settlers invent brandy by way of preserving the wine through distillation during export journeys.
The first reference to cognac being sold as a variety of brandy appears in France.
According to a study, the U.S.A. cognac market is 90% dominated by four producers alone.
BNIC changes the minimum age of an XO blend from six years to 10 years.
National Cognac Day FAQs
What is the difference between cognac and brandy?
Cognac is a type of a brandy, but there are still core differences between cognac and general brandy. While brandy can be made anywhere in the world, a cognac bottle must always come from the six specified regions in France.
Is cognac a whiskey or a wine?
Cognac is a wine since it is made with grapes, whereas a whiskey is made from grains.
Why is cognac so expensive?
Cognac is expensive because of limited resources. There’s a huge amount of money needed to produce the resources (grapes) in the first place. Moreover, the fermentation time and storage of cognac also require money and specific resources.
How To Celebrate National Cognac Day
Drink some cognac
If you were looking for a sign to indulge in some good wine, this is it. Take out that cognac bottle or buy one, and indulge in one of the finer things in life.
Drink cognac with others
Be it your family, your friends, or the strangers next to you at the bar, enjoy a glass of cognac or two with them. Spark up some conversations about the drink and/or your life and interests. It will make for a good time for all parties involved.
Research about cognac
You may appreciate the drink for its aroma and complex flavors, but do you know the history attached to it? Learn how the drink came to be by surfing the web or visiting a cognac manufacturing site. Talk to the experts to learn about the finer details of the drink.
5 Facts About Ugni Blanc That Will Blow Your Mind
95% of cognac from Ugni Blanc
The most common grape type used in cognac manufacturing is Ugni Blanc, and it is used to make 95% of cognac.
Ugni Blanc from Italy
Ugni Blanc originally comes from Tuscany in Italy, and it is called Trebbiano Toscano over there.
Least prestigious varieties
Ugni Blanc happens to be one of the least prestigious grape varieties out there, and this in itself is a surprise since it is widely used to make wines like cognac and Armagnac.
Virtues in tenacity and high yields
Ugni Blanc’s virtues lie in its tenacity to keep the highest levels of acid up to the last point and the high amount of yields it provides.
Grape bunch shape ideal for maximum fruition
An Ugni Blanc’s bunch shape allows for air to circulate, which minimizes rot and allows for more fruit to be reaped.
Why We Love National Cognac Day
It’s a celebration of history
The rich history lends many lessons and interesting anecdotes. Apart from the obvious wine factors associated with the day, there are fascinating details about immigration, export/import, and the science behind the changing tastes of the drink.
It’s a celebration of winemaking
Winemaking is an art unto itself. The variety of steps and the strict adherence to them results in these delectable drinks that we can enjoy. Making wine is a process and learning about the process makes for an interesting experience.
It’s a celebration of invention
Brandy was invented through the sheer necessity that the situation demanded. ‘Necessity is the mother of all inventions’ is a phrase that holds true in the case of the invention of cognac.
National Cognac Day dates