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What Makes Up Cognac
Cognac is a rich and flavorful alcoholic beverage that takes years to create. Because of the length of time needed to invest into making a worthwhile cognac, brewers of the beverage usually operate on family-owned vineyards that have been in business for generations. The lengthy process is actually a very simple one that requires a great deal of patience. Brewing cognac has been called an art because careful attention needs to be paid to everything that goes into its production. This includes the growth and cultivation of the grapes, the entire distillation process that goes into it, and also the wood the barrels are made out of that store and help to age the cognac.
Harvesting the Grapes
Let's begin by talking about grapes, as they are the main ingredient for cognac. It is made from green grapes in particular, the same type that white wine is made out of. These grapes are grown in fields with about three meters left open between each vine crop. This allows optimal sunlight to reach the grapes so they will grow plump and healthy. Grapes are picked once a year, which is around the beginning of October, either by hand or more advanced machines. These grapes are then cleaned, and any bad ones are picked out and tossed. While some slip through, it does not affect the cognac that is made.
The grapes are then put into a flat horizontal press, which crushes them and collects their juice in a separate container. This juice is then put into a fermented tank. Here, yeast is added and mixed in, and it is brought to a high heat. Unlike wine, there is no sugar added to the mixture, which is what differentiates cognac from wine. The yeast is activated by heat and gives off carbon dioxide, which contributes to the cognac's alcohol content. Most of the carbon dioxide is filtered out of the fermentation tank, though.
Aging the Cognac
The fermentation process lasts for 3 to 5 days, and then the cognac is transferred to wooden barrels. The wood made from these barrels is strong, yet porous, and full of tannins. Typically oak is used in the making of these barrels, as it fits that description well. As the cognac sits in the wooden barrels, the tannins and dyes from the wood seep into the liquid, giving it a dark brown complexion and a unique flavor. The aging process typically takes between 2 and 50 years. When the cognac is done aging, it is put into glass bottles and sealed airtight, where it will stay fresh until it is exposed to the air.