No matter if you are thinking of enjoying Cognac as a digestif or mixing it into a cocktail, it's never a bad idea to have a bottle on your bar cart.
Here you will learn what Cognac is, how it is made and its different grades, and how to enjoy it.
What is Cognac?
Cognac is a type of brandy produced from distilling wine in the Cognac region of France using specific grapes grown in the area.
The wine used for Cognac production is made from specific grapes grown in the region, most commonly the Ugni Blanc grape. Cognac must be aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years, but many are aged for much longer, often decades. The aging process contributes to the distinct flavor and aroma profile of Cognac.
How to enjoy Cognac?
Enjoying Cognac is a sensory experience that involves not only tasting but also smelling and appreciating the aroma of the spirit. The tips below will help you get the most out of your Cognac and fully appreciate its unique flavors and characteristics.
It is a great idea to serve Cognac in a snifter, a wide-bottomed glass with a narrow top that allows the aroma of the Cognac to be released.
Serving Cognac at room temperature (68°F to 72°F) helps the flavors and aromas to develop fully.
Pouring is also an art, so when enjoying Cognac Pour a small amount (1-2 ounces) of Cognac into the snifter. Swirl the Cognac in the glass to release the aromas.
When it comes to smell, Take a deep sniff of the Cognac, focusing on the aroma and the different scents you can detect.
Take a sip and let the Cognac sit on your tongue for a moment before swallowing. Pay attention to the flavors and the finish of the Cognac.
Cognac tastes best when you pair it with chocolate desserts, fruit, cheese, and nuts to bring out its flavors.
You can enjoy Cognac on its own, but it is also commonly used in cocktails, such as a cognac martini or a sidecar.
What are the different grades of Cognac?
There are several grades of Cognac, each with its distinct flavor profile and aging requirements.
VS (Very Special)
aged for at least two years.
VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale)
aged for at least four years.
XO (Extra Old)
aged for at least six years, but often much longer.
When choosing a bottle of Cognac, it is essential to consider the blend and the age of the spirit, as well as your taste preferences.
What are the popular brands of Cognac?
Many brands of Cognac produce a wide range of products, from entry-level to premium. Here are some of the most well-known and reputable Cognac brands:
One of the largest and most well-known Cognac brands, with a wide range of products available. The largest producer of the spirit, supplying nearly half of the world’s Cognac. Together with its top sales, the brand’s image has also successfully formed a place in pop culture through hip-hop and artist collaborations.
Remy Martin is known as a producer of premium Cognacs, including their iconic VSOP and XO expressions. Remy Martin VSOP is a perfectly balanced and multi-layered cognac aged up to 14 years in French oak casks with vanilla, stone fruit, and licorice notes. It has the perfect proportion of powerful and elegant aromas. It is the sign of the Cellar Master's art of blending.
Martell is regarded as a brand with a long history and a reputation for producing high-quality Cognacs. It is one of the four Cognac houses that sells more than a million bottles per year.
Courvoisier is known for its luxurious and refined Cognacs, including its XO expression. Courvoisier makes unique and attractive blends full of nuance and profoundness using many premium grapes, like Petite Champagne, Grande Champagne, Fins Bois, and Borderies.
It is a family-owned brand that produces premium Cognacs with a focus on sustainability and environmentally responsible practices. Camus is one of the biggest independent family-owned Cognac companies and fifth among Cognac companies. Camus stays a proudly self-reliant company with a firm conviction that craftsmanship, devotion, and quality are the keys to a product’s continuous success.
These are just a few of the many Cognac brands available, but many others also produce excellent products.
Lastly, Cognac is a complex and sophisticated spirit with a rich history and a unique flavor profile. Whether you're a seasoned connoisseur or a newcomer to Cognac, there is always more to learn and discover about this iconic spirit.