Mastering How to Drink Brandy: A Complete Guide

5/5 - (2 votes)

Brandy, a classic spirit with centuries of history, offers a rich and complex drinking experience. From its origins in vineyards to the refined glassware it’s served in, there’s much to explore when it comes to enjoying this exquisite beverage. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the nuances of drinking brandy, covering everything from selecting the right bottle to savoring its flavors.

What is Brandy?

Why You Should Be Drinking Apple Brandy

Brandy is a distilled spirit made from fermented fruit juice, most commonly grapes. It undergoes a process of distillation and aging, resulting in a range of flavors and characteristics. The term “brandy” encompasses various styles, including cognac and armagnac, each with its own unique production methods and regional distinctions.

Types of Brandy

  1. Cognac: Originating from the Cognac region in France, cognac is renowned for its elegance and complexity. It undergoes double distillation and aging in oak barrels, resulting in a refined and nuanced flavor profile.
  2. Armagnac: Hailing from the Armagnac region in south-west France, armagnac is often characterized by its robust and full-bodied nature. Unlike cognac, it undergoes a single distillation process, offering distinct flavors and aromas.

Selecting the Right Brandy

Factors to Consider

When choosing a brandy, several factors come into play:

  • Flavor Profile: Consider your taste preferences and whether you prefer a smoother, more delicate brandy or a bold, intense one.
  • Aging: Brandy aging can significantly impact its flavor and character. Older brandies often exhibit greater complexity and depth.
  • Brand Reputation: Opt for reputable brands with a history of producing high-quality spirits for a guaranteed enjoyable drinking experience.

Tasting Notes

Experimenting with different brandies allows you to explore a variety of flavors and aromas:

  • Fruity: Look for notes of ripe fruits such as apricot, plum, or fig.
  • Spicy: Some brandies exhibit hints of spice, including cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves.
  • Oak: Aging in oak barrels imparts flavors of vanilla, caramel, and toasted wood.

Serving Brandy

How To Drink Brandy: A Complete Guide For Beginners


The choice of glassware can significantly enhance the enjoyment of brandy:

  • Balloon Glass: Also known as a snifter, the balloon glass’s wide bowl and narrow opening concentrate the aromas, allowing you to fully appreciate the brandy’s bouquet.
  • Tulip Glass: Similar to the balloon glass but with a slightly narrower opening, the tulip glass is another excellent option for savoring brandy.


Brandy is best enjoyed at slightly below room temperature, around 15-18°C (60-65°F). Avoid serving it too cold, as low temperatures can dull the flavors and aromas.

Serving Suggestions

  • Neat: Sip brandy neat to experience its full complexity and character.
  • With Water: Adding a splash of water can help release the brandy’s aromas and soften its intensity.
  • On the Rocks: For a refreshing twist, serve brandy over ice, allowing it to slowly dilute and mellow as you sip.

4 rules for drinking brandy

Is drinking brandy, whisky or rum healthy?

Drinking Brandy Neat

This means enjoying brandy without any additional ingredients like ice or mixers. The rationale behind this is to fully savor the complex flavors and aromas of the brandy. Unlike some other spirits, brandy can have delicate and nuanced flavors that can be overshadowed by dilution from ice or mixing with other beverages. Neat consumption allows the drinker to experience the brandy in its purest form, especially when dealing with high-quality, aged brandies where the intricate flavors are more pronounced.

Invest in a Brandy Snifter

A brandy snifter is a specialized glassware designed to enhance the drinking experience of brandy. It typically features a short stem and a wide, bowl-shaped body that tapers at the top. This unique design serves multiple purposes. Firstly, the wide bowl allows for easy swirling, which helps release the aromatic compounds of the brandy. Secondly, the narrow opening traps these aromas, directing them toward the nose with each sip, intensifying the tasting experience. Investing in a quality brandy snifter ensures that you can fully appreciate the flavors and aromas of your brandy.

Drink Brandy at Room Temperature

Unlike wine, which is often served at varying temperatures depending on the type, brandy is best enjoyed at room temperature. Serving brandy too cold can dull its flavors and aromas, whereas serving it too warm can lead to the evaporation of volatile compounds, altering its taste profile. By serving brandy at room temperature, you allow its complex bouquet to shine through, offering a more enjoyable drinking experience.

Warm the Brandy Snifter

Warming the brandy snifter before pouring the brandy can further enhance its flavors and aromas. This can be done by holding the glass in your hand for a few moments, allowing your body heat to gently warm the brandy inside. Alternatively, you can warm the glass by rinsing it with warm water or gently heating its base over an open flame. However, it’s essential to exercise caution to avoid overheating the glass, as this can lead to the evaporation of alcohol and the loss of delicate flavors. Warming the brandy snifter helps to release the full spectrum of aromas, making for a more pleasurable tasting experience.

Brandy Cocktails

SoulBoxer Brandy Old Fashioned serves up Wisconsin in a bottle

Classic Recipes

While brandy is delightful on its own, it also shines in a variety of cocktails:

  1. Brandy Old Fashioned: A timeless favorite, combining brandy, sugar, bitters, and a twist of citrus peel.
  2. Sidecar: A sophisticated blend of brandy, orange liqueur, and lemon juice, served in a sugar-rimmed glass.
  3. Brandy Alexander: A creamy and indulgent cocktail featuring brandy, crème de cacao, and cream, garnished with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Custom Creations

Feel free to get creative and experiment with your own brandy cocktail recipes. Whether you prefer fruity punches or herbal infusions, brandy’s versatility makes it a perfect base for crafting unique and flavorful drinks.


Drinking brandy is not just about indulging in a spirit; it’s an experience that engages the senses and celebrates centuries of craftsmanship. Whether enjoyed neat in a balloon glass or mixed into a classic cocktail, brandy offers a world of flavors waiting to be explored. So raise a toast to the timeless elegance of brandy and savor every sip.