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Pineau

Little of these rich second products of the French brandy industry is known outside France. In essence they are a mixture of the newly distilled eau de vie and grape juice, mixed together in a ratio of between 1:4 and 1:3. In the case of Pineau des Charentes, made by many cognac producers, it is then aged in oak casks making it become richer and much more desirable. This is not the case in Armagnac, where the Floc is not aged.

These secondary drinks of their respective industries are often compared with port or sherry, since their qualities are not dissimilar. But they are not to be confused, since the grape juice is added to the eau de vie, whereas with fortified drinks, the brandy is added to the wine. In most cases these rich drinks are consumed as an aperitif and served cold. However some people use them as a dessert wine - tantalisingly attractive when served with a rich cheese or sweet pudding.

Since the reign of Henry IV, monarchs of France have used lemons to clear their mouths between tasting different brandies and this tradition has been carried on for more than four centuries. Today, many cognac cocktails have been made incorporating lemons. Brandyclassics has formulated a long cocktail incorporating Pineau des Charentes, lemons and cognac. It is widely used as an introduction drink at parties and more formal celebrations and is a delight on a hot sunny day.

To make Pineau Royale:
Take half a bottle of Pineau and half a bottle of sparkling mineral water, mix in a jug with the juice of 3 lemons and about 50cl of Hermitage 2005 Grande Champagne cognac, add lots of ice and stir. Serve with slices of lemon in a highball glass.

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