Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Slapping Back the Cognac

I’m always on the lookout for good writing, new or old, about wine or food. One of the recommended classics is In Search of a Perfect Meal, a collection of articles written by Roy Andries de Groot. Baron de Groot died in 1983 (a suicide) at the age of 73, so his writing belongs to another era. Many of the places and people about which he wrote have passed from the scene, even though at the time of his writing, some of these places and people were the forerunners of nouvelle cuisine. His appreciation for food and wine, perhaps heightened by his blindness, is evident in his writing as is his respect for (most of) the people he meets.

His article on How to Get a Great Meal in a Great Restaurant is unintentionally hilarious: Phone the restaurant and, pretending to be your own personal assistant (use a different voice), make a reservation, inventing an impressive title so that the restaurant will think you’re a VIP. It goes on from there, but you spend your entire meal being someone you’re not. Unless, of course, you actually are a VIP with a personal assistant.

His advice on tasting cognac (learned from cognac makers) is, however, very helpful and very different from wine tasting:
You pour not more than half an ounce into a four-ounce chimney glass [a standard INAO wine tasting glass], stick your nose into the glass, and breathe in slowly....You then take the tiniest sip – no more than a fairly large drop – which you slap with your tongue onto the roof of your mouth, then immediately spit out the excess liquid. Swallow, then open your mouth and breathe through it, slowly steadily, deeply.
I tried out this technique on the weekend with a glass of one of M. Remy Martin’s cognacs and, darn, it works! Well, except for spitting out the excess… Next time that you’re tasting cognac, or grappa, try it.

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1 comment:

  1. Great! I'm gonig to put this on my summer reading list.