Thursday, 26 June 2008

Cider and pineau

If there is one thing we know France for, then it's wine, champagne and cognac. For us who live here there's a few other possibilities and specialities, which we can get to know. My two favourites are pineau and cider.

You can't avoid seeing cider on the menu-card if you go to a crêperie. And if you want to eat crepes as the French does it, then you have to drink cider with it. The dry cider (brut as we know it from the champagne) is surprisingly enough very suitable with both galette (crepes with meat and cheese filling) as well as with crepe sutette (the desert crepes).

French cider is found in two versions normally. Sweet and dry. The strength is between 5% and 8%, so quite stronger than the Swedish cider, but milder than the English. When you buy cider in the supermarkets the prices are quite reasonable. From less than 2€ up til perhaps 6-7€ depending on quality and brand for a 75cl bottle. It's served best cool, but not cold. Give it time to recover on top of the visit to the fridge.

Pineau is a wonderful experience in itself. It's produced in the same area as cognac, and is made from the same grapes. It's a sweet strong wine (17-22%), often with hints of honey or flowers. It is most often served as an aperitif and at a temperature between 8 and 10 degrees in tulip shaped glasses. It's found in a white and rose version.

The legend about Pineau des Charantes tells that a winegrower in 1589 during the harvest happened to pour fresh grape juice onto a barrel where there was already cognac. The barrel was stored away and some years later there was need of the barrel due to a good harvest. The farmer was surprised over the wonderful drink in the barrel, clear and golden like the sun in the Charantes region.

Don't forget to try the local specialities when you're visiting. It's certainly worth it and I'll bring home a couple of bottles when I visit the family back in Denmark, so they can taste the golden drink.

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