|"Bordeaux - a drink for boys,
port - a drink for men,
but those wishing to become heroes
should drink brandy".
English writer of XVII century
Brandy, according to the Oxford English Dictionary is defined as "a strong alcoholic drink, acquired through the distillation of grape wine." Its title comes from the Flemish word "brandewinj", meaning "burnt wine". Brandy is a collective name and has three types - cognac, armaniac and calvados.
Cognac is often called the "king of drinks". It is undoub-tedly the most popular brand of brandy.
Following system of dis-tinguishing is accepted for marking the oldness of cognac:
V.S. (Very special): Age of no less than 2 years, in practice its average age is 4-7 years;
V.S.O.P. (Very special old pale), V.O. (Very old), Resrv: Age of no less than 4 years, on practice average age is 6-12 years.
V.V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale), Grande Reserve: Age of no less than 5 years, in practice its average age is 7-15 years.
X.O. (Extra Old), Napoleon, Extra, Gold Reserve: Age of no less than 6 years, in practice average age for Napoleon is 10-20 years; for X.O. 20-30 years and Extra 25-40 years.
Cognac, as a rule, is served after dinner or supper. In order to confirm the quality of cognac, it is necessary to touch it with a finger along the outer rim of the glass and to view it from the other side of glass, judging whether the finger prints are visible or not. If yes, then the cognac is the highest quality.
Cognac is not meant to be drunk at once like vodka. French Foreign Minister Talleyrand said this regarding cognac, "The glass should be warm in one's hand. A round movement is given to it, so the cognac can open its bouquet. Then it is brought close to mouth, a breath is taken in and later it is returned to its previous resting place and conver-sation begins."
Cognac is not to be sipped in a hurry, one must take the time to enjoy its aroma, softness, circularity and, at the same time, enjoy its fineness and harmony. It is a special drink, not intended for a crowd at noisy jubilees, celebrations and felicitations like cham-pagne.
Cognac is not drunk with snacks, you may order a chocolate or apples, however. A cigar compliments cognac well. Its high style requires the observance of the three "Cs" (coffee, cognac, cigar) first coffee, then cognac and finally a cigar. The new method of consumption became very popular in more recent times - with icy glasses for whisky ("cognac on the rocks").
Cognac glasses should hold a small amount of cognac, and form a "balloon" showing the strength of alcohol.