This summer, the Pineau des Charentes Committee launched its first marketing campaign in the US. Americans, already enjoy the truly craft, French cognac so are expected to embrace this little-known relative. Pineau des Charentes is produced exclusively in the French Charentes region and gained the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée status in 1945. There are now about 500 producers. Pineau is made by adding freshly pressed grapes to newly distilled cognac eau-de-vie, at a ratio of about 3:1. It must be aged in oak for at least a year and can be white or rosé. Some producers, such as Chateau de Beaulon, still refer to their pineau as red. Made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes, it is ruby red in colour, rather than pink.
While Pineau is fruity and light, Old and Vintage Pineau offer a complex mix of flavours such as nuts, honey and dried fruits. An artisanal, authentic drink, Pineau des Charentes is completely natural with no sugar added. It combines the fruitiness of wine with the warmth of cognac and is best served cold. Try it as an aperitif, in a cocktail or as a dessert wine.