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Beginner’s Guide To Drinking Cognac

2 February 2012 6 Comments

Before we get into the procedure we need to know that “All cognac is brandy but not all brandy is cognac.” Brandy can be made from any fruit from any region but cognac is made only from grapes from the Cognac region in France.

There are several ways to drink cognac, personally I prefer to drink it neat at room temperature. Let’s get started with the guide!


  1. The first and one of the most important thing when it comes to drinking cognac is to select a proper glass. A Tulip-Shaped wine glass is an ideal choice or a snifter. A snifter is a glass that has a wide bottom and a narrow top which is mostly used to serve brandy. The reason snifter is ideal while drinking cognac is because the narrow top of the snifter will help trap the aroma of cognac inside the glass so you can enjoy each sip. There are quite expensive snifters out there but an inexpensive one will do the trick as well.
  2. Now that you have the proper glass its time to get the aged cognac age a little bit more on your hands. Most people pour cognac and start drinking it immediately which is a wrong approach to drinking cognac. To truly enjoy the taste of cognac pour a small amount, preferably 20-25 ML into the snifter and hold the glass for about 6-10 minutes. This allows the cognac to warm slowly and aroma stays in whereas if you start sipping right away it evaporates the aroma.
  3. If you buy cognac yourself you can certainly tell how long it has been aged. But if you are served cognac at a party or a gathering you might not know how long it has been aged. There is a simple trick to it. Once you have warmed the cognac, take a look at it and you should be able to tell the age of cognac by looking at the color  (not exactly but pretty close). Lighter colors usually symbolize that the cognac you are holding isn’t aged for too long where as stronger colors such as amber, gold and red suggests that the cognac has been aged longer
  4. Now its time to smell it. (You are probably thinking why go through all this when you can simply pour it and start drinking but if you truly want to enjoy one please do follow the procedure.) Now that you are able to tell the age of the cognac you are holding its time to smell the aroma that the snifter has been holding in for you. Life up the snifter slowly close to your nose and smell the aroma which is generally known as “montant odors” (however we prefer using the word “aroma” instead of “odor,” but thats our personal preference ).
  5. Now slowly bring the snifter down and swirl the cognac in the snifter. This will help you unleash any aroma that has been trapped and bring the snifter up and smell once again. You will most probably find the smell to be a little stronger than before. Usually cognac has fruit or floral aromas such as rose, pear, cherry, apricot, plum, fig, quince, grapefruit, etc.
  6. Now you are ready to take the first sip of the cognac that you have been eagerly waiting for. Make sure to take a small sip and let it slowly pass over the palate. If it is a younger cognac you will feel that the taste is much stronger whereas older cognacs are much smoother and warmer. Once you develop the taste for cognac you will be able to tell what kind it is with your very first sip.


You can drink cognac with tonic, ice and there are many other ways you can mix it, but like I said in the beginning I prefer mine without any mixtures. If you really want to learn and develope a liking for cognac make sure to drink it slow, the key is to sip it not gulp it down.

There are no bottoms up when you are drinking cognac. I personally like my cognac with a cigar and once in a while with chocolate. As you get used to cognac your taste buds will tell you what would go perfect with your glass of cognac.

Hope this guide is helpful and we certainly hope that you give cognac a try (if you are 21 and over) if you haven’t already. We look forward to hearing from you through your comments.

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  • sudhanshu said:

    Thanks. Just the kind of ‘Cognac for Dummies’ stuff I was looking for.

  • Sonu said:

    Nice little story. Just got a bottle of xo execllence remy martin cognac. I thought this bottle would go fast. Your explanation will help me drink it slow and enjoy.

    Thanks Dude.

  • Betsy said:

    Thank-you for your information. Just what I was hoping to find.
    I have a bottle of Cognac that our exchange student brought over from France with her in the 80’s and have kept it quite dear for all of these years, but was not sure if it would be palatable after all these years.
    I don’t think it’s a very expensive bottle, but now I have some enlightenment of Cognac.

  • anuj said:

    really the kind of stuff you need as a beginner. thanks a lot. cheers

  • Jimmy said:

    Would you start your cigar as you wait the 6-10 minutes for the Cognac to warm? Or lite up after you’ve taken your first taste?

  • Barbara Hunter said:

    I have been enjoying Brandy alexanders using my cognac and have been adding one third each of cognac, cream and chocolate liqeuer. I have realised since reading your information that my 50 ml of each is somewhat excessive. Our cognac is going down rapidly even though we only have once cocktail occasionally . Well weekly perhaps. We buy Meukow usually.

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