The Art of Tasting: Tips for Drinking Cognac

For many, Cognac remains a great mystery, left sitting on the high shelf and only brought down for special occasions. The beautiful French name is enough to make one wonder if formal attire is required for sipping. Not at all. Let’s unravel the mystery with a few tips for drinking Cognac so you can start enjoying this rich style of brandy.

What Exactly Is Cognac?

This may be one of the reasons those who enjoy a fine drink are intimidated by Cognac. They simply aren’t sure what it is. Is it a wine? A brandy? The confusion is warranted. Technically, it’s a type of brandy created from wine.

Cognac is created from distilled white wine that’s derived from grapes from Cognac, France; it’s crafted using copper pot stills and is distilled twice. It’s then aged in French oak barrels for at least two years. The longer it is aged, the richer it becomes.

The result is a brandy that warms the senses and varies in notes from sweet florals and apricot flavors to dark chocolate and leather.

Pairing With Food

Cognac can be beautifully paired with some rich cuisines. Beginning with an appetizer, younger Cognacs pair well with oysters, cheese, or caviar. A mature Cognac complements game meats such as duck or pheasant. To top off a meal, choose a richly aged Cognac and pair it with a decadent chocolate dish.


Take a chance and try something new. You could step up your favorite Old Fashioned with Cognac next time.

Mixing Cognac with flavors like ginger, lime, and mint works well due to its citrus and herb notes. There are no rules. The best cocktails made with Cognac are the ones you create and enjoy.

Neat or on the Rocks

Many spirit aficionados will argue over what is best when tasting—neat or over ice? With Cognac, the answer is whatever you prefer.

If you’re new to the art of tasting, we suggest trying Cognac neat first. Sipping Cognac this way gives the ultimate experience and allows you to taste the notes through all of your senses.

After you understand the many layers of this rich, French beauty, add a couple of ice cubes and sip slowly, allowing the ice to melt. As the Cognac becomes watered down, you will start to discover new notes.

Following these tips for drinking Cognac will open your senses to new tastes, sights, and smells. Be prepared to keep your Cognac where you can easily reach it.

VS Liquor is your source for high-end liquor, including the finest Cognacs.