Brandy is distilled wine, and used to be called “brandywine” from the Dutch “brandewijn” or burned wine. But beware when you order it, because it can contain caramel coloring and flavoring to fake aging. It is best to request Cognac, which is brandy from a specific region in France that has an AOC and must meet certain conditions. For instance, copper stills and special oak barrels have to be used in its making, and the resulting Cognac has to stay in the wooden casks for at least two years. You will recognize the big-name brands that make it, such as Hennessy, Courvoisier, and Remy Martin. For an even more exclusive (and expensive) brandy, ask about Armagnac–from another region in France, also quality controlled, and with limited production from small-time producers. Be careful to inquire how much it costs…

Truc (Tip): As a digestif, or after-dinner drink, Cognac can’t be beat for its nutty, honey-hued heat, but don’t forget that, unlike wine, it’s about forty percent alcohol. Faites attention!


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