Martell "Fine Cognac - How Do I Enjoy It?
December 13, 2003 6:36 PM   Subscribe

I've received a bottle of Martell "Fine" Cognac for Christmas. I'm completely new to it. What are good ways to enjoy Cognac?
posted by nthdegx to Food & Drink (7 answers total)
After a good meal, just a half-shot or so. (Or more if you want...I'm usually well wined by that time, so 1/2 shot is all I need.) It's worth it to get a couple of brandy snifters--they can be had cheaply at IKEA and I'm sure in lots of other places. The point of Cognac and other brandies is the smell, hence the snifter glass which carries the vapors straight to your schnozz.

Unlike whisky, it is not common practice to add water to Cognac. But it is quite strong stuff and can burn a lot going down--small sips are advisable. One way to stop the heartburn is to hold it in your mouth about twice as long as you would hold the equivalent wine or whisky. It will sting your mouth a bit, but nothing like it would sting your gullet.

If you end up liking your Cognac, you might want to check out Armagnac too.
posted by Tholian at 6:53 PM on December 13, 2003

(while waiting for Miguel to provide some real expertise, here's my pale imitation ...)

It all depends on just how good a Cognac it really is, and that depends mostly on its age. If its a VS or VSOP, it's good to drink on its own but you could also mix it.

If it's a Napoleon or XO, you're a lucky man. Thank your friends extra-sincerely, and don't even think about doing anything other than drinking it straight. It's best as a digestif after dinner (cigars, fireplace, and Hugh Hefner monogrammed bathrobe are optional).

Drink it out of tulip glasses. If you don't have any, use the biggest wine glasses you have. You want a round bottom to be able to swirl it around, and big glasses to hold the smell.

Cognac has so much alcohol that you can't enjoy the taste straight out of the bottle. Don't put more than one finger's worth in your glass at a time. Swirl it around for a few minutes, cupping the glass in your hands to warm it instead of holding the glass by the stem. The alcohol will evaporate, and the cognac will make beautiful patterns as it runs back down along the sides of the glass. Think deep and satisfying thoughts while you're doing this (or at least pretend to).

After a few minutes, you can stick your nose in the glass and get some of the aroma without being overwhelmed by the alcohol. Some cognacs smell like spices, or wood, or vanilla. Take your time. The smell is actually much more of a pleasure than the taste.

Take small sips, and mix it with saliva to dilute it. Don't swallow right away. If you feel warm and happy, you're doing it right.
posted by fuzz at 7:09 PM on December 13, 2003

Best non-drinking use is for dipping strawberries, which are then rolled in sugar (granulated).
posted by whatzit at 7:38 PM on December 13, 2003

This is great stuff - thanks. It appears to be a VS.
posted by nthdegx at 7:47 PM on December 13, 2003

(Err, the responses, not the Cognac - which remains untried)
posted by nthdegx at 7:48 PM on December 13, 2003

nthdegx: the VS is Martell's bottom line "quantity" label but that doesn't mean it's not a wonderful cognac. All it means is that the blend doesn't contain that many older cognacs - which, in many cases, is a very good thing as the taste is fresher and younger. Here is the Martell website - it has a few good suggestions. Next time you're in the money, treat yourself to a bottle of Cordon Bleu - that really is heaven and, with care, a bottle can last you six months as only a little is needed to transport you there.

You can certainly drink it on its own, following fuzz's directions: pour a small quantity into a smallish snifter (better still, obtain a special tulip-shaped tasting glass for cognac - they're ideal for malt whiskies, bourbons, ryes etc), move it around and sip slowly. I think fuzz is indulging in wishful thinking when he says the alcohol evaporates. Not more than 1%, I'd say - and thank God for that. ;)

Martell VS is also one of the best cognacs for making a lovely cocktail - the sidecar. Just shake 2 measures of cognac (or 1 if you prefer it weaker, but still delicious), I measure of Cointreau and I measure of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Serve straight up or on the rocks in an old-fashioned glass.

And, now that you've listened to us amateurs, here is some truly reliable information on "degustation" from the pros!

posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:45 AM on December 14, 2003 [2 favorites]

Thanks, Miguel :)
posted by nthdegx at 8:05 PM on December 14, 2003

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