Cognac is a type of brandy enjoyed the world over for its rich texture and flavor. As distinct as it is, cognac can actually be consumed in a variety of ways. You can mix it with tonic over ice, combine it with orange juice or add a drop of syrup. But in every case, you must drink it properly and with a keen appreciation.

Things You'll Need

Select your wineglass. The tulip-shaped glass is ideal, but a spherical glass will suffice.

Pour a very small sample of your cognac–about 20 to 25 ml–into the glass.

Hold the body of the glass in your palm for about 10 minutes. This warms the cognac slowly and naturally, whereas other methods evaporate the aroma.

Look at the surface of your cognac in the glass, paying special attention to its color. Cognac’s color can tell you its age, from the lighter colors (the youngest) all the way through yellow, amber, gold and even red (the oldest).

Take your first smell. Position your nose at the edge of the glass and gently inhale–this aroma is known as the “montant odors.” The smell of cognac is usually floral or fruity but can range anywhere from violet to apricot to nut, or even quince.

Withdraw your nose and gently swirl the wineglass in your hand. Smell again.

Finally, bring the glass to your lips, and take a small sip. Let the cognac pass over your palate as you enjoy the complex texture of your drink. Younger cognacs will hit sharply, almost impulsively–but older varieties are more gentle. Drink slowly to appreciate it.


  • You can also mix your own drink with other grades of cognac: VS stands for very special, VSOP for very special old pale and XO for extra old. These grades are a minimum of 3, 4 1/2 and 6 years old, respectively–but they are, on average, even older.

  • You would be well-advised to familiarize yourself with the vocabulary of cognac: ‘montant odor,’ ‘bouquet,’ ‘smack’ and ‘rancio.’ Your knowledge will improve your experience.

References and Resources Tasting Cognac