Master the basics of cognac

Learn the essentials of cognac appreciation: how to drink cognac properly, hold a cognac glass or open a cognac bottle. Discover our ‘How to cognac’ series.

Master your cognac

What you will learn

Becoming a cognac expert requires understanding the essentials. Learn what it takes to step up your cognac appreciation to another level.


What cognac glass should you choose?

There are numerous types of cognac glasses. Understanding which glass to choose when serving cognac plays an essential role in any Martell cognac tasting.

The best way to drink cognac neat is from a tulip glass. It has a narrower base than a balloon glass, and a slightly narrower opening, which helps to release all the aromatic strength of the cognac.

While the tulip glass is appropriate for all Martell cognac tasting, it is essential to fully enjoy Martell Cordon Bleu Extra, Martell Chanteloup XXO and L’Or de Jean Martell.
The balloon glass is widely used in Asia. It retains all the aromas which come from the cognac when served on ice or as a long drink.

The best glass for cocktails with cognac, long drinks or cognac on the rocks is often a tumbler or highball glass.

How to hold a cognac glass?

The best cognac glass is the classic, tulip-shaped glass, with 12 cL sufficient in size. Its tulip shape is designed to concentrate the aromas and help identify them. The glass should always be perfectly transparent in order to better appreciate the colour of the cognac, which is the starting point for any tasting. Always hold the glass by the stem or the foot (the rounded part that holds the glass upright on the table), and never by the base of the glass. Otherwise, the natural heat from the fingers or palm can amplify the alcoholic aspects and make the taste harder to appreciate.

Holding the glass by its stem also makes it easier to swirl the glass and let less volatile aromas express themselves.

How to store cognac at home?

Cognac should be cellared upright. The strength of the alcohol can otherwise degrade the cork and lead to unpleasant odours and tastes, and even seepage.

Avoid large temperature variations when storing cognac. The ideal temperature in a house, flat or room is around 19 or 20°C, and around 12°C if in a cellar. Also, make sure to store the bottle in a dark place to limit exposure to light.

Another important factor is to reduce to a minimum the surface contact of the cognac with air. For this reason, it is preferable to buy 2 bottles rather than 1 magnum, for example.

One trick for maintaining the cognac level at the bottleneck is to gradually fill the bottle with perfectly clean transparent glass beads as it is emptied of cognac. This will ensure the level of cognac remains constant at the neck, where the surface contact with air is the smallest. Another trick is to transfer the bottle to smaller container(s) as the level of cognac depletes.

How to drink and appreciate cognac?

Cognac, a symbol of excellence and conviviality, can be tasted in different ways and on numerous occasions.

Understanding how to appreciate cognac starts with the essentials, such as how to hold a cognac glass or open a cognac bottle.

The Martell cognacs can be enjoyed as an aperitif or in a cocktail during a drinks party, but also during lunches or dinners, and as a digestif.

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