Wed 10 Dec 2014

A Christmas Spirit: Pineau de Charentes


Many pleasant discoveries have been stumbled on by chance. This is all too true in the culinary world (Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce for one!). Legend has it that noble rot’s effect on grapes to make sweet wine was a similarly accidental discovery.

To these, add Pineau de Charentes.

Pineau des Charentes, Château d’Orignac. The Wine Society

Château d’Orignac’s delicious Pineau des Charentes

Over 400 years ago, or so the tale goes, unfermented grape juice was poured into what was believed to be an empty vat, but which actually contained brandy.

Upon returning to the cask after several years, the resultant mixture was found to be extremely palatable and a Pineau de Charentes was born.

Now this wonderful accident has its own appellation stating amongst other things that it must be freshly harvested grape must and year-old cognac, and be aged for a minimum of 18 months (12 of which must be in barrel).

The festive season seems to be the perfect period for Pineau. Amber in colour and with the warmth and depth of Cognac and an appealing sweetness, the beauty of this blend to me is it can perfectly book end a meal.

Chilled it offers itself up as an ideal apertif, but then is equally at home as a companion to cheese, especially blue cheese, or even when presented with puddings, including those that contain chocolate.

Indeed, Pineau can also be added to the meal in sauces which, along with its ability to be left open for a few days, makes this a worthy addition to the season’s drinks cabinet.

So over the next few weeks, whether you’re looking for something to sip prior to a meal, during a meal or even after the meal, why not enter into the sprit?

Should you wish to join me in doing so, we offer a Pineau from Château d’Orignac (£16 per bottle) that combines Cognac with the must of red grapes to produce a special drink.

Conrad Braganza
The Cellar Showroom


  1. Melville Jones says:

    I lived in Forfar, which is twinned with Chabanais in France. Pineau de Charente in Chabanais is endemic at any reception with the Mayor, or before meals with friends.

    I worked in a deli in Forfar, and we sold Pineau on my recommendation and after putting on tastings on Saturdays, we sold more Pineau between September and December than the whole sales in the rest of the United Kingdom!

    I currently live in the village of Suris, some five miles from Chabanais, and enjoy Pineau at 7 euros a bottle!
    My thoughts are that Reynac Pineau is better. That was the Pineau we sold in the deli!

  2. Gerald Milner says:

    Yes, I have very happy memories of years gone by when I kept Pineau de Charente and regularly served it as an aperitif.
    Now I only have one bottle left and, sadly, most of my friends would not appreciate it.
    However, you have reminded me and I think I may offer it at my next birthday gathering. It will be interesting to see the response!

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