While the average, mass-produced American butters contain about 80 percent butterfat and aren’t particularly distinctive, French butters are required to have at least 82 percent butterfat, a maximum of 16 percent water, and 2 percent vitamins, carbohydrates and minerals. Although the difference is a mere 2 percent, the higher fat content found in French butter serves to create a final product that has a richer taste and a more malleable texture.
CHEESE CONNOISSEUR: Is Cognac considered a type of brandy? And what are the different types and production techniques?
RON KAPON: Cognac is both a spirit and a place. It is produced only in the Cognac region, which sits on the banks of the Charente River about 200 miles southwest of Paris and north of Bordeaux, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. This spirit must be made of a blend of specific grapes, most notably Ugni Blanc, also known as Saint-Emilion. It must be double distilled in copper pot stills, and then, by law, aged in French oak barrels at least two years, although most Cognac are far older. Some types are cured up to 40 or 50 years in oak. What’s unique is that all Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac.