Local Heart, Global Soul

August 21, 2009

Pineau des Charentes is NOT Pinot Noir wine… but it IS….

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

Not to be confused with Pinot Noir wine, which has a vaguely similar sounding name, Pineau des Charentes, is a delightful gem of a drink that is a little known secret, not only outside of France but also in other regions of France outside the Charentes Maritime. Basically, Pineau des Charentes is made by taking the very first pressing of the grapes and mixing that juice with Cognac. The grape juice must be made the same day as the grapes are picked. The result is similar to Port, a mellow semi sweet drink that like Port, can deal a decent punch if too much is drunk at once since it’s more alcoholic than it tastes. Even if you find Cognac too strong and too fiery, if you like Port then it’s fairly certain that you will love Pineau. If you are asking for it in English then it comes in “White” or “Red,” but the French call the same thing “Blanc” or “Rose”. Don’t ask me why, because No, it’s not pink. Many places that sell it might also have the possibility of “ degustation” which is a small taste test sample of that they have. It’s worth asking for the possibilities of a “degustation” because there are subtle differences between young and aged Pineau’s and between the young and aged Red and Whites. Be careful if you are driving though, many small “samples” will add up and quickly put you well over the legal limit. If you are in the Charentes, Do try and sample Pineau’s from more than one maker, and in different price ranges because just as with wine tastings, there are slight and sometimes surprising differences between them all and once accustomed to the taste you will quickly form distinct preferences. Over the years we have enjoyed Pineau’s both dirt cheap and more expensive of excellent and sometimes not so excellent quality so don’t only go on price alone. I will be reviewing various Pineau’s in this blog from time to time but of course naturally I will rate them according to my tastes. A small few Pineau’s are not particularly good tasting at all … a taste test will eliminate the possibility that you buy one of the few bad Pineau’s. A little (and especially a lot) French language skill will go a long long long way with small village Pineau makers too and if you buy a box of six bottles or twelve then often a small reduction in price can often be smilingly arranged. Brush off your language skills and be prepared for a treat !

Saint Jean d angely2 pineau a (Small)

Pineau des Charentes1 (Small)

The Shop where I bought some Pineau…

Saint Jean d angely2qq (Small)

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