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Bottle Basics: Brandy vs. Cognac

Posted on  | July 23, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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The age-old question of “this vs. that” is the foundation for a new department in the magazine. Think of it as defense against category confusion, which has become all the more common among consumers thanks to the barrage of new brands and expressions. By focusing on key factors—base ingredients, origin, methods, label terms, usage—that are likely to arise as questions in a selling situation, you and your staff can be better prepared to make sure a customer leaves with the right product, plus a little extra knowledge.

Selling Brandy & Cognac

Brandy’s simplicity—it’s the distillate of fermented fruit juice—also holds the seeds of its complexity: Many fruits can be used as base material, and diverse geographical standards and names have developed. For comparison’s sake, Cognac vs. other brandies makes sense because Cognac is the best-known type.

One critical distinction to determine when helping people find a brandy product for their tastes is to gauge their stylistic preference. Fans of true fruit flavors are best steered toward brandies made from tree fruits (e.g., pear, plum, cherry, apple). Fans of whiskies are more apt to enjoy wood-aged grape-based brandies, notably Cognac, with higher-priced expressions marked by smoother texture and layers of complexity, but not necessarily more intensity.

Sales of domestic brandy are nearly double that of Cognac, but Cognac still retains recognition as the most prestigious form. On the other hand, heightened attention to craft spirits is casting locally made brandies in a more positive light than ever.

As expected, brandy depletions spike as the weather becomes colder and during the holiday season. Upscale packaging and assorted sizes make Cognac an excellent gift; vintage-dated examples from Camus, or from varied Armagnac producers can add appeal as a birth-year gift.




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