Sometimes a taste, a colour or a sound will become indelibly linked with a particular person in your mind. For me, the drink pineau des Charentes always makes me think of my friend Claire.
It’s her birthday today, which is why she’s in my thoughts.
She introduced me to the drink.
Pineau is made by mixing fresh grape juice with cognac eau-de-vie. Apparently, it was discovered by accident – a winemaker inadvertently poured grape juice into a barrel containing eau-de-vie and thought no more of it. Later, once it had fermented, the result proved popular and a new drink was born.
As its name suggests, pineau comes from Charente, in the Poitou-Charentes region of south-western France. (A small amount is also made over the border in the Dordogne too.)
Available in both white and rosé versions, some 91 million litres are produced each year – that’s around 112 million bottles.
I don’t think Claire knew any of that when she first served up a glass as an aperitif. She knew it from her mother, who has retired to Brittany, and it became one her favourite tipples.
Now it’s one of mine too. Thanks, Claire. And happy birthday!