Not many people know how to properly taste and evaluate alcoholic beverages. There is nothing difficult here, it is enough to know a few nuances. If you decide to taste cognac for the first time, this material will be useful to you. We will look at the process of tasting cognac, which consists of three stages.
The first tip is to use only a special cognac glass (snifter). Do not pour cognac into the glass, otherwise you will not be able to enjoy its smell. The glass must be clean (thoroughly wiped) and absolutely dry. This will help you evaluate the appearance of the drink.
The classic cognac tasting consists of three phases: “eye”, “nose” and “mouth”. First, the appearance, smell, and only then taste are assessed.
In the “eye” phase, the shade of cognac is assessed. The color depends on the aging and the presence (absence) of caramel in the alcohol. Cognac can have different shades: light golden, reddish with a bronze or copper tint, dark amber and even brown.
It is impossible to determine the age of cognac only by color, since caramel could be added to it. If a drink labeled VS or VSOP (aged 2-4 years) has a very dark color, caramel was definitely added to it. For several years of aging in oak barrels, cognac cannot darken much.
A perfectly transparent oily drink with a vibrant shine can be called qualitative. The drips on a glass with good cognac should be even and embossed. This is where the visual cognac tasting ends.
During the next phase of assessment (“Nose”), the specialist uses the capabilities of his sense of smell. Some professionals do not evaluate cognac at all visually, believing that the color and consistency are easy to fake. They go straight to smell analysis. For this, the glass is filled no more than a third.
Phase “first nose” – brandy is not shaken, but immediately brought to the nose at a distance of 10-15 cm, trying to catch the first volatile substances.
“Second nose” – the glass is twisted in the hands for several seconds, then tilted a couple of times in different directions. After that, the drink is brought closer to the nose, evaluating the aromatic bouquet. It is very good if the cognac smells like vanilla, honey, chocolate, spices or coconut.
Cognac aged over 15 years should smell like mushrooms, cheese, butter, overripe fruits, almonds and hazelnuts. This aroma is called “rancio” (rancio), it is inherent only in elite aged cognacs and some brands of fortified wines.
At the “third nose” tasting phase, the combination of all the aromas of the drink is assessed. Do not bring your nose too close to the glass, as there is a risk of burning the mucous membrane. The burn is not dangerous, but for a while you will lose your sense of smell and will not be able to finish the tasting.
To relieve irritation of the nasopharynx from cognac alcohol, just sniff the back of your hand.
The final phase of the tasting is called the “mouth”. After a small sip, the cognac is kept in the mouth for several seconds, drawing in a little air. This is how the softness of the evaluated beverage is determined. The higher the quality of the cognac, the longer the aftertaste lasts. There should be no alcohol in the taste of the tasting drink.
Experienced tasters use another secret – they don’t wash the glass. In a good cognac, the aroma lasts for several days, and sometimes weeks.