Pineau des Charentes
Will U.S. drinkers pine for Pineau?
Neither wine nor spirit, Pineau des Charentes provides a stepping stone between the two categories. It’s long been popular in France and Belgium as an apéritif, and now a growing number of U.S. bars and restaurants are embracing this blend of Cognac eau-de-vie and lightly fermented grape must, with its honeyed, delicate tones and food-friendly alcohol levels. In Chicago, Sepia blends a rosé Pineau into a fruity cocktail with Bols Genever; in New York, The Beagle serves a shot glass of Pineau alongside foie gras and shortbread. Meanwhile, restaurants such as Daniel, Per Se, Le Bernardin and Rouge Tomate have begun offering hard-to-find aged Pineau. “Because the market for Pineau [is] so small, people don’t age it,” explains Cognac blender and importer Nicolas Palazzi, but since extra barrel time adds body and complex flavor, Palazzi points out, “it’s cool stuff that deserves to be better known.”
Try this Pineau's recommended by Spirits Taster Kara Newman:
Pineau des Charentes, Jean-Luc Pasquet, $30 (unaged)
Paul-Marie & Fils Très Vieux Pineau des Charentes, $90 (aged 25 years)