Vive La France

Vive La France

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“Fermente, Distillite, Tasternite!” cheered the French Spirits-o-lutionary army, celebrating the rise of their nation’s finest liquids.

France, the land of Eau De Vie or Water of Life, as it is known in the common tongue, truly has us mesmerized... their fine cuisine, their Baguettes and Camembert, Foie Gras; Cognac, Absinthe, Champagne, Brigitte Bardot and French kissing… ahhhh!

Halfway through our journey you might start wondering about life and the kind of a person you have become… are you more of a Boheme type and like to sip Absinthe on the boulevards of Paris in search of the Green Fairy's advice? Or do you like to ski and you don’t want to finish a perfect, sun struck day in the French Alps without a glass or two of La Vieille Poire? Maybe you prefer the north of France and your spirits lifted with Calvados? Perhaps you like to smoke a nice cigar and indulge in a glass of Cognac? Or you prefer to have Armagnac in St. Tropez, while spotting chic French girls sunbathing in their swimsuits that fit their perfectly curved bodies oh-so-neatly… mon dieu! You shall face the truth in the depths of these 5 spirits. It might loosen your tongue and embolden your wit as well.

It is the small things in life that count and this voyage through the Eau de Vies of France is made to grow near and dear to your heart. As Molière put it wisely, “Le plus grand faible des hommes, c'est l'amour qu'ils ont de la vie.” Man's greatest weakness is his love of life. So Love, Taste and Enjoy!

Santé & Vive La France!

Trivia & SmartAss Corner

1) Poire William is the name for Eau de Vie made from the Williams pear. It is generally served chilled as an after-dinner drink. Some producers of Poire William include an entire pear inside each bottle. This is achieved by attaching the bottle to a budding pear tree so that the pear will grow inside it.

2) Calvados is apple brandy from the French region of Lower Normandy. It can be served as an apéritif, blended in drinks, between meals, as a digestive, or with coffee.

3) Calvados is the basis of the tradition of le trou Normand, or the Norman hole. This is a sip of Calvados taken between courses of a very long meal, sometimes with apple sorbet, supposedly to reawaken the appetite.

4) The Phylloxera outbreak at the end of the 19th century devastated the vineyards of France and Europe, making Calvados and Absinthe really popular.

5) Absinthe is historically described as a distilled, highly alcoholic spirit with anise flavour deriving from botanicals, including the flowers and leaves of Artemisia absinthium, together with green anise, sweet fennel, and other medicinal and culinary herbs.

6) Through the course of history, Absinthe was considered almost everything: the drink of the poor, the remedy for French colonialists, hors d'oeuvre for the rich and posh and an inspiration for artists of all kind. It was outlawed for almost 100 years because of its overconsumption and some other supposed effects.

7) Absinthe is traditionally served with a precise ritual. It is ready to be enjoyed after ice cold water is poured in a glass of Absinthe in a five-to-one ratio over a sugar cube on an Absinthe spoon. But we say that the only true way of drinking Absinthe comes with time and taste.

8) Armagnac is a distinctive kind of brandy produced in the Armagnac region in Gascony, southwest France.

9) Some of the virtues of Armagnac, as claimed by a Cardinal in the 14th century: It enlivens the spirit, partaken in moderation, recalls the past to memory, renders men joyous, preserves youth and retards senility. And when retained in the mouth, it loosens the tongue and emboldens the wit, if someone timid from time to time himself permits.

10) Cognac, named after the town of Cognac in France, is a variety of brandy (distilled wine). It is only produced in the wine-growing region surrounding this town. Cognac must be made from specific grapes, must be twice distilled in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in French oak barrels. Most Cognacs are aged considerably longer than the minimum legal requirement.

11) The Wine used for Cognac is very dry, acidic, and thin, but excellent for distillation and aging.

12) What’s the difference between Armagnac and Cognac you might ask? Distilling method: Armagnac is usually distilled only once using a column still or an alembic still, while Cognac is required to be distilled twice in a pot still. Grapes: only Ugni Blanc grapes are used for Cognac, while Armagnac producers experiment more with grape types. And of course the Geography.

13) Rancio is a highly desirable nutty flavour normally found only in extra-aged fortified wines (Port, Sherry, Madeira, Marsala…) and fruit-based spirits: Cognac, Calvados, and Armagnac. It appears in Cognac and Armagnac after roughly 10 years of ageing in oak casks, its intensity growing over the years.

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