Imbibing With The Malt

I’ve long been a fan of cognac even before Busta Rhymes and P. Diddy’s hit 2002 song, “Pass the Courvoisier” which is practically an alternative national anthem in France and definitely a favorite tune of the very few who read this silly dog blog.

Courvoisier GIF.gif

Cognac is traditionally sipped from a “snifter.”

The problem is that I have Hors d’Age taste but a VS budget. That probably needs a little explanation.

Cognac is brandy sourced from the 190,000 acres Cognac region of France. It’s made by twice distilling various white wines to create spirits called l’eau de vie.

cognac region 2

One of the white wines used is known as Ugni Blanc, pronounced “ooo-nee blonk” which makes me laugh every time.

Anyway, a variety of l’eau de vie are subsequently blended and aged to make cognac.

Cognac comes in different grades and as one ascends the quality scale, each grade is significantly more costly than the former because of a) the price of ingredients, b) the time spent aging and c) because the French are well known to be as avaricious as Scrooge McDuck on Black Friday.

Just in case you are naïve (French again, Evian backwards!) about this subject, here are the most common grades of cognac:

VS – Very Superior – aged at least two years and useful for making cocktails, de-greasing your Chevy’s engine block, removing tar from shoes and igniting as part of fancy desserts you ordered at an expensive restaurant in the hope you might later get past second base with Molly Kurtz back in 1973. Never mind that last part.

VSOP – Very Superior Old Pale – aged at least four years and useful for mixed drinks or sipping neat while looking like an Ervard Munch painting because of the burn as it excoriates one’s throat. Tasty over ice cream and makes a bitchin’ (hello 1970s adjective!) eggnog mixer. Righteous!

Extra – Extra, duh – aged at least 10 years. The yum-yum stuff you want to put in a snifter, warm in your palm and sip while discussing the pros and cons of Corinthian leather and pretending to be the Most Interesting Person in the World.

Hors d’Age – Beyond Age – Extraordinary product. A top hors d’age cognac like Remy Martin Louis XIII goes for $3,500 a bottle – at Costco. Now, before you start saying “oh, quality beyond age sounds like a description of me” remember that some of the l’eau de vie used in this cognac are over 100 years old. Come to think of it, that does sound just like you, and you, and you, too. You know who you are.

So, anyway, I was in my usual reclining chair. The chair that looks at a distance like an Eames original but up close screams pleather from Bob’s Discount Furniture and Taco Emporium. Maxwell was burrowed by my leg.

Max on Chair 3

“Sit down and let’s have a cognac.”

I was nipping on a cognac of such poor quality that le chateau on the bottle’s label had screen doors and its residents all wore wife beaters. French designer wife beaters. Monsieur Batteur de Femme so to speak.

Max was absorbed in his private reflections about whether Milk Bones were really made from milk.

I was pondering, as did Spinoza, Plato and Al Yankovitch before me, the essential tensions among compatibilism, free will and determinism.

Maax on Lap

“That’s better.”

Nah, nah, nah…you guys know that’s not even remotely true. I only get philosophical when trying to explain why anyone would remain loyal to the Denver Buncos after the dreadful season they have had so far.

Actually, I was just drinking my lesser known brand of cognac – “Saveur de Vieilles Chaussettes” – and recalling why the French language deserves to be mocked:

Consider the French word “oiseaux.”

– It means “birds.”
– It has seven letters. Not a single one is pronounced the way it should.
– Not a single, solitary, stinkin’ one.
– It is pronounced “WAZO” as in “I took it right up the old Wazo.”
– This is absolutely ridiculous and deserves mocking. Fight me.

Max on chair 2

“You going for a refill?”

Max wasn’t making much progress with his deliberations about the ingredients of Milk Bones and we both attributed our lack of deep thoughts to the swill in my balloon glass.

The little chien lunatique felt the fumes were having a deleterious effect on his mental acuity which, being a Maltese didn’t even begin to place him on the Mt. Rushmore of giant brains.

About this time, the Alpha Japanese Female passed by and announced she was compiling her holiday shopping plan. She coyly inquired if either of us “had any special requests to make of Santa this year.” I understood that to be a metaphor. I knew what she was up to; can’t fool me.

Max on Lap 3

“Sometimes you amaze me, and not in a good way.”

Having just imbibed a touch of my cognac, I could hardly speak but finally managed to gasp, “Hors d’age, hors d’age, hors d’age.”

“Don’t be silly,” she said. “You don’t know anything about horses.” She walked off.

Max just stared at me while shaking his confounded little Maltese head. “Vous êtes plus bête qu’une boîte de marteaux,” he mumbled, albeit with an excellent accent.

Indeed, sometimes I am dumber than a box of hammers.

49 replies

    • Max is jealous because Jacques lives in the land of affordable and drinkable cognacs. There’s not much audience here for the noble spirit. Even the larger stores have rather limited selections and the prices are borderline obscene. I can’t think of an XO that is under maybe $250 unless you count ones with suspicious provenances like “Genuine French XO Cognac made in Sebastopol CA.”

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      • Hohoho. Wait until Max finds out about the edible and affordable truffled cheese and smelly sausage that Jacques had for dinner tonight. If little white dogs have telepathic communication, well, that could explain those pointed stares.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Hors d’age…more like hors pair, mon pote!
    You will be needing the gallant Max to defend you shortly….the French have a ‘mission civilisatrice’ – usually conducted by violence – and your assessment of the products of the Cognac region risks retaliation in the form of assorted French intellectuals descending on you to ‘re educate’ you. And don’t get up your hopes of free booze as part of the programme….as you have noted, the French are remarkable for their parsimony – you’ll be footing the bill and French intellectials drink like fish.

    Liked by 2 people

    • French intellectual. Hmm, isn’t that what we lesser mortals call an “oxymoron?” Uh oh I better be careful – Lynn and Jacques visit the silly dog blog and may take offense. You are 100% spot on about how touchy the French are about their precious cognac. For about 15 years I worked for a division of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and they were absolutely obsessed with their alcohol brands which included Moët & Chandon, Krug, Veuve Clicquot, Hennessy and Château d’Yquem among a lot of others. The great times were when the head honchos threw a big party and served the good stuff to the peasant employees.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This was truly fascinating…seriously. One question…if it’s twice distilled from white wines, how come it’s brown? Is that stuff rusted?

    Obviously can tell I have no couth, but curious minds what to know about the color. And not the color of the Benjamins to buy that ritzy stuff. Then again I think I should probably stick with the beverage of a typical Bronco fan. It’s yellow, just like that cowardly team and we’ve been cryin’ in it all season long.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sorry I’m so late to the party. For some reason you’ve been sitting in my “junk” box. You naughty boy. And the iPad didn’t alert me that I had something there. 😡

    My one and only encounter with Cognac was at my wedding reception. The owner of the restaurant caught up with my husband and me and dragged us to the bar bragging we were going to toast our marriage with the best Cognac ever. I took my first sip and was sure I was going to die on the spot. My husband and the owner kept insisting the more I drank the easier it would go down!

    I drank it and I was sloshed immediately and never saw the red flag indicating grounds for divorce!! Fortunately this was at the end of the reception when most guests had left.

    Funny, I don’t have any memory of the beginning of our honeymoon!! And no one thought to mention that Cognac comes up easier than it goes down. Ewwwww!

    58 years later I’m still married to the same man….just for spite! Lol. And no, I have not had a drink since that day!

    Max, you are just too cute for words.
    🐾Ginger🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s OK, Ginger. Most of the people who stumble on this silly dog blog immediately send me to the junk box. (especially a certain blogger named “loisajay” but let’s keep that quiet.) So I’m used to it. That was an excellent cognac story. The stuff packs a punch and can sneak up on you. I’m that way with tequila. Ever since a certain night in Mexico City with a one-armed lady taxi driver and a car with a manual transmission I’ve been unable to stomach the smell of tequila. It was a night to remember but sadly – or maybe luckily – I don’t remember all the details. Wow! 58 years of wedded bliss! That is a world class accomplishment, congratulations!

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