Gin, vodka, whiskey, tequila, rum -- the average drinking man has a good understanding of the fundamental spirits. But brandy? Unlikely. And Cognac, brandy's sexiest sibling next to Ray J? Almost certainly not -- and that's a damn shame. To better educate you on this kingly spirit, we broke down a handy guide of essential facts. Read on and learn up (and we promise not make another Ray J reference).
1. Cognac is the Champagne of brandy
Cognac is a type of brandy, or distilled wine, made in a delineated region of about 200,000 acres surrounding the town of Cognac, on France's western coast. All Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac. Like how all rhombuses are squares, but not all squares are rhombuses. Or how all grilled cheeses are sandwiches, but not all sandwiches are grilled cheeses. We can keep going but we'll stop because you probably got it the first time.
2. There are six distinct Cognac-making regions
Within this "delimited area," as it's called by French Cognac authorities, are six zones of production defined by their terroir. From highest-quality (chalky, limestone-rich soil that retains the most moisture and reflects the most sunlight to the grapes) to lowest (soil that is mostly clay or sand), they are: Grande Champagne, Petit Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois, and Bois Ordinaires. Virtually all Cognacs are blended from several eaux-de-vie (distilled spirits of varying ages) from these six regions for the most well-rounded flavor.