ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

When Cognac is produced, is it made in the Champagne region or is it made from the Champagne grapes?

—Jerry M., Leawood, Kan.

Dear Jerry,

Actually, neither. Cognac is a brandy made mostly from Ugni Blanc grapes. Champagne is made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier grapes. Cognac is made in a region called Cognac, and Champagne is made in a region called Champagne.

But then it gets a little confusing, because there is something called "fine Champagne Cognac." Within Cognac are six growing regions, including two named Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne. Turns out that "Champagne" is a way to reference "chalky soils" in France, so there are several areas in France that have "Champagne" in their names. So, if a Cognac comes from Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne, it can be called "fine Champagne Cognac."

—Dr. Vinny


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