When it’s time to choose the cognac you’d like to drink, here often comes the same question:

  • Which cognac do I want to drink now?
  • Which cognac to choose?
  • What’s the best cognac for this moment?
  • What kind of cognac is going with this meal?
  • How to taste cognac correctly?

So you’re going directly through your own cognac reserve or the cognac bar you’re in to order. It’s your time!

So today, let’s focus on the basics of cognac tasting.

When to drink cognac? What’s the best moment to taste cognac?

Cognac is a fantastic drink that can be drunk on many occasions and ways: for happy hours or parties with friends, in aperitive with your lover, for dinner with your family…
Let’s take a tour of moments to enjoy cognac.

Cognac in apéritive

A good time to relax! After a long day full of adventures and actions…

  • Cognac can be drunk as it is: neat. The cognac is usually thought, composed, and tasted by producers and experts like that: in simplicity, without any artifacts.
  • But, of course, you can also add a drop of water to reveal cognac aromas and perfumes. The cognac tasting experience becomes a discovery: fruity, floral, and/or spicy.
  • And with two ice cubes? For sure! It will slowly reduce temperature and alcohol percent, diluting the beverage to reveal new cognac aromas.
  • Cognac also can be frozen or flamed! Bartenders are excellent examples of how to sublimate cognac.

So be creative and find the way you enjoy cognac!

Pairing cognac and food

Meal time is always a pleasure; we all want to push testing boundaries. Like wine, cognac is an excellent alcohol for lunch or dinner.

It can be paired with meats, fish, vegetables, desserts, and fruits. Thanks to his powerful aromas, it can sublimate every receipt.

Cognac is a liquor

Quite simple! Cognac is a liquor, or an “eau-de-vie” for French connoisseurs 😉, so it comes perfectly after each meal to help digestion. It reveals its pure expression. Just relax and enjoy cognac slowly.

You can also have cognac with quality espresso. Tastes mixed, creating a great mix of flavors with each drink’s acidity, warmth, and roundness.

Cognac into party

How to enjoy cognac during a party? Easy, use cognac in cocktails or cognac in long drinks! There are so many cocktail ingredients to taste and enjoy with cognacs!

Whether in a bar or a club, see the bartender! Hundreds of beautiful cognac cocktails can be savored: Sidecar, Sazerac, Cognac & Ginger Ale, Mata Hari… Or just pick one in our cognac cocktails database!

Funny Facts

Hennesy tasting committee is every morning at 11AM! Enjoy cognac!

Cognacs age and cognac temperature

How to choose the cognac age?

As you certainly know, cognac is an assembly of several brandy/”eau-de-vie”. It’s categorized like that, from the youngest to the oldest :

  • VS (for Very Special cognac): a cognac aged of minimum 2 years old
  • VSOP (for Very Superior Old Pale cognac): a cognac aged of minimum 4 years old
  • Napoléon: a cognac aged of minimum 6 years old
  • XO (Extra Old cognac): a cognac aged of minimum 10 years old
  • XXO (Extra Extra Old cognac): a cognac aged of minimum 14 years old
  • Out of age: oldest cognacs, more than 14 years

Every cognac age has its specificity, so if you want to know more about it, discover our special post: The cognac ages: explore from VS, VSOP, XO to Out of ages…

What about cognac temperature? What’s the best cognac temperature?

Every cognac producer keeps cognac in a place called “chai”; it’s a big cellar where barrels production is stored. The storage temperature in chai is usually quite similar to wines: 54°F to 60°C (12°C to 16°C)

But for tasting cognac, it’s usually recommended to taste at an ambient temperature: 64°F to 68°C (18°C to 20°C).

How to choose the cognac brand?

If the brand name is essential to you; and you dream of glory, rhinestones, and glitter, opt for a cognac from one of the “Big 4 cognac houses”: Hennessy, Martell, Remy Martin, or Courvoisier. These cognac brands are legendary.

Otherwise, find a cognac from a smaller, lesser-known estate: Camus, Delamain, Bourgoin, Baron Otard, D’Ussé, Louis Royer, Larsen, De Luze…

Choose the best cognac glasses

How do you choose the perfect glass to taste your cognac?
There are several cognac glasses categories :

The cognac lamp glass

7,4 ounces / 22 centiliters

The classic cognac tasting glass is the best way to discover and enjoy cognac. Exceptional for cognac perfumes and cognac aromas.

The cognac tulip glass

5,7 ounces / 17 centiliters

The second cognac classic tasting glass to enjoy cognac. Amazing to fully discover perfumes and aromas.

The pyramid glass

7 ounces / 21 centiliters

This glass is also known as Bormiolo Rocco, the Martini glass (the famous beverage), or the James Bond glass! Its perfect form is usually used for cognac cocktails like The Sidecar.

The ‘cocktail coupe’ glass

12,5 ounces / 37 centiliters

It’s an old-fashioned way to drink cognac. Perfect for time travel in cognac history of the most famous cocktail.

The shooter glass

3,3 ounces / 10 centiliters

Why not ?! Every alcohol can be shot sometimes! Cognac too! Party time… Cheers!

The short drink / old-fashioned glass

9,4 ounces / 28 centiliters

A short glass, usually in crystal or glass, with sculpted forms.
Very classy for cognac!

The long drink glass

12 ounces / 36 centiliters

A special for cognac cocktails, to mix cognac with sodas and ices.

Taste cognac like a pro: the method.

Cognac colors: the pleasure of the eyes

First of all, cognac tasting is about observations:

  • Serve cognac in a tulip glass (the best glass to enjoy cognac aromas and cognac scents)
  • Holding the cognac glass by the stem (to avoid heating the cognac), rotate it slowly so that the cognac falls gradually along the wall; this is called “making the cognac cry“.
  • You can now judge its color, degree of viscosity, and clarity.
  • Tip you can place the glass on a white background (wall, sheet of paper) to reveal its true hue and saturation

Cognac scents: Up to the nose

Now is the time for the cognac olfactory examination.
Purists proceed in 2 steps:

  • First, without stirring, capture the most volatile and delicate scents.
  • Then, rotating and oxygenating the liquid releases the cognac aromas we can smell for a long time.

The taste of cognac: let the magic happen

Bring the glass to your lips and take a sip. Navigate the cognac in your mouth; you can also suck in some air. Let’s go for the discovery of aromas and flavors; it’s a feast for the taste buds!

Try to make associations of ideas (aromas, perfumes…) and to regain the nose perfumes.

We always taste cognac in small quantities. As the cognac sticks, it will evolve.

You can also drink some water or eat during your tasting. Enjoy!

3 Emblematics cognac cocktails

  • The Classics
Mata Hari cocktail
Mata Hari

The Mata Hari Cocktail is a classic drink that is steeped in history and intrigue. Discover the mystery !

Do you want another cognac drink*?

Browse our unique cocktails database!

Discover cognac… again & again!

If you want to go far away, take a look and enjoy the great work of Cognac Expert on how to drink cognac: such great content and advice!