Cognac’s global reach keeps spreading

But its best years are still ahead of it

Cognac’s global reach keeps spreadingAccording to the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), the industry’s trade association, cognac’s three largest markets are the United States (78.7 million bottles), Singapore (23.6 million bottles) and China (22.6 million bottles). Singapore has the distinction of having the largest per capita consumption of cognac in the world. It has the same distinction with…

Cognac’s rise from a regional product to a worldwide phenomenon

Export sales drove the development of the industry, a feature as true today as it was three centuries ago

Cognac’s rise from a regional product to a worldwide phenomenonFrom the very beginning, the cognac industry was dominated by cognac houses that acted as intermediaries between the producers of eau de vie and their overseas markets. Many of the first cognac houses were founded by English and Irish entrepreneurs: Jean Martell was from Jersey, while Isaac Ransom, James Delamain and Richard Hennessy were all…

Getting to the essence of cognac: the distiller’s art

The deft hand of the master blender is critical to production

Getting to the essence of cognac: the distiller’s artAt first glance, cognac production seems straightforward. The local wine is distilled twice, aged in oak casks from a few years to decades and eventually bottled. In reality, it’s an exceedingly complex minuet where the subtle influences of terroir merge with the distiller’s art and ultimately flower under the deft hand of the master blender.…

Aging and blending create cognac’s extraordinary fusion

The blend is at the heart of cognac and its formulation is the industry’s highest art form

Aging and blending create cognac’s extraordinary fusionAfter distillation, the new spirit is casked and moved to a warehouse where, depending on its intended use, it may age for a period of a few years to several decades. Generally speaking, cognac is aged in barrels made from oak from either the Tronçais or Limousine forests. The eau de vie is aged in…

With Cognac, it’s all about terroir

The environment, including the chalky soil, is everything when it comes to producing the right grapes

With Cognac, it’s all about terroirCognac begins as wine. Like any wine, it’s shaped in part by the environment in which it grows. Soil, aspect and climate, among other things, combine to create a unique environment, what the French call terroir. A wine, in turn, is a distinct expression of that terroir. In the Cognac region, terroir is, for the…

Fungi fundamentals: the truth about mushrooms

Fungi have great names – turkey tail, pigskin poison, honey mushroom – and come in all shapes and sizes

Fungi fundamentals: the truth about mushroomsMy local nature club recently hosted a mushroom walk. No, that’s not where you take your pet mushroom for a walk. We visited some trails in central Ontario looking for different types of mushrooms, poisonous and edible. We weren’t foraging so we left the woods as we found them, although many others go to local…

How to choose wines for Thanksgiving dinner

Our columnist's picks for Thanksgiving dinner wines

How to choose wines for Thanksgiving dinner“Our life is frittered away by detail,” proclaimed Henry David Thoreau. “Simplify, simplify, simplify!” On Thanksgiving, many of us heed Thoreau’s advice and remind ourselves and our loved ones to stop fretting over little things and give thanks for the big things we too often take for granted. Yet, one area that seems to defy…

Cognac: A spirit’s spirit to survive and thrive

The traditional cognac houses have had to overcome grape plagues, the rising popularity of Scotch whisky, counterfeiting and war

Cognac: A spirit’s spirit to survive and thriveAugier, the first modern cognac house, was organized in 1643. Today the brand is owned by French spirits giant Pernod Ricard. It recently relaunched the brand with a line of cognacs said to reflect the early style of the product. Over the two centuries following 1643, many of the leading cognac houses, including the big…

Cognac, a short history of an enduring spirit

What is the difference between cognac and other types of brandy?

Cognac, a short history of an enduring spiritCognac is a type of brandy produced in the Charente region of France, centred around the towns of Cognac and Jarnac, and stretching from the Île de Ré to the Gironde Estuary on the Atlantic coast, to Angoulême and the foothills of the Mastiff Central. The Cognac Delimited Region, the exclusive area where cognac can…

Thermapen ONE a high-tech way to check your meat temperature

The ONE in the name refers to the speed of a reading – one second – with accuracy within 0.3°C (0.5°F)

Thermapen ONE a high-tech way to check your meat temperatureEven after years of preparing steak, fish and chicken, do you still cut into your protein to make sure it’s cooked just right? I’ve used a typical thermometer, but I keep cutting meat on the grill due to a combination of concern about inaccuracy and my cooking ineptness. A good solution is Thermapen ONE by…
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