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About Pineau des Charentes
Around 1589, when distillation started in the Cognac region, an unknown wine grower filled a barrelwhich he thought was emptywith freshly pressed grape juice.
Little did he know there was a small amount of cognac left inside. The spirit stopped the grape fermentation process, which is called mutage. The result was mistelle, an alcoholic beverage that retains the sweetness and fruitiness of the unfermented grape as well as the aroma of the spirit.
When the wine grower opened the barrel a few months later, he found a pleasant surprise. The farmer's accident is now known as Pineau des Charentes, a French AOC.
According to its appellation, there are two types of Pineau des Charentes: white and pink (red).
White Pineau des Charantes must be made with one or more of the following varietals: Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, Colombard, Meslier St. Francis, Juraçon Blanc Montils, Semillon, Sauvignon, Merlot Blanc, Merot Noir, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc. The juice and cognac must be aged in white oak barrels for at least one year, achieving an ABV of 16 to 22 percent. There are also 5-year and 10-year aged versions.
Pink (Red) Pineau des Charantes must be made with one or more of the following varietals: Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Merlot Noir. The juice is macerated with the skins to achieve colour. With the cognac the mixture must be aged in white oak barrels for at least eight months, achieving an ABV of 16 to 22 percent. There are also 5-year and 10-year aged versions.
This apéritif must be treated like a wine, served very fresh and without ice at room temperature (6 degrees Celsius). It is also featured in a number of classic French cocktails.