Freelancery -- Cognac 101: Everything You Need To Know About Cognac (Courvoisier)


So my second piece for Courvoisier is live! I was tasked with writing a guide to cognac, from how to order to how to drink and sniff it. Have a gander:

Cognac—the name alone evokes visions of smoking jackets, cigars and ornate crystal bottles inside moody, fancy libraries, but novices need not fret. Cognac is for everyone. But here’s what you should know before you see, sniff, swirl and sip.

Crepes, soufflé and French Fries aren’t the only things that come from France. For a brandy to bear the name of cognac, it must be produced in the Cognac region of France. There, a mix of regional white wine grapes is double distilled and aged in oak barrels for at least two years before further blending and bottling. As such, all cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is cognac.

All cognacs are not created equally. The French take their spirits quite seriously so, as with life, there are levels to cognac. The label on a bottle of cognac is your guide to what’s inside. The designations denote the age of the youngest eaux-de-vie (the French name for distilled spirits) in that cognac’s blend. A Very Special (VS) has been aged in oak barrels for two to four-and-a-half years. You may also see this denoted by three stars (***). One step up in age, price and quality is the Very Superior Old Pale, or VSOP, aged at least four years. Extra Old, or XO, is at least six-years-old and is the most complex and elegant (and expensive) of the bunch. This top tier may also be labeled as a Napoléon, Extra or Hors d’âge. Read the rest at

Here's my first piece, also a Courvoisier-Esquire collaboration, "7 Moments You Deserve To Unplug."

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