There is a saying in the bartending industry that all Cognacs are brandies, but not all brandies are Cognacs! To be called Cognac, the grapes have to be grown in the Cognac region of France, which is considered the Cadillac of grapes. But don’t be fooled by this potent drink that packs a real punch. It has some tricks up its sleeve when it comes to longevity.
Have you wondered what the letters are on bottles of Cognac? You may see VS, which is very special because it has been in an oak cask maturing for at least two years. Or VSOP, a Very special old pale that has matured for 7 to 10 years. The list goes on.
This article will examine Cognac, what makes it so unique, and whether it expires or goes bad, as some other liquors do. We will answer frequently asked questions, so you understand Cognac well.
Let’s get into it.
Does Cognac expire?
This could be controversial as some of you say Cognac has a shelf life of up to 18 months once opened and an indefinite shelf life while the bottle is sealed.
But yet, the Cognac manufacturer Martell states that their Cognac is good for 100 years if the bottle is sealed after pouring a Cognac. There will be no marked difference in flavor or alcohol content if the bottle is sealed and stored correctly.
There seems to be a huge discrepancy, but maybe all Cognacs are not made equal, and this is the reason. However, it seems like an unlikely explanation for the longevity of Cognac.
To be called Cognac, the grapes have to be of a french variety grown in the Cognac region. Cognac must originate from the southwest French area of Cognac, which is renowned for its exceptional terroir (the soil, climate, and topography that contribute to grape-growing conditions).
So it seems as if Cognacs are not that different after all.
However, there is an enormous difference in maturing time of the Cognacs, so maybe this is a contributing factor to the life of the spirit or hard liquor.
More affordable Cognacs taste terrific but in terms of price for some Cognacs, you can easily spend the best part of $3000 in contrast to Remy Martin’s famous Louis XIII, which blends Cognac that is between 1,200 years old and 100 years old that can sell up to $200,000.
Does Cognac need to be refrigerated?
In certain circles, the mere suggestion of refrigerating Cognac could see you hoisted by your own petard.
Cognac should be kept at room temperature, maybe not if you live in a tropical region. Cognac should not be exposed to temperature fluctuations. Being cold will suppress the aroma of the Cognac and reduce the flavor profile, whereas a room temperature Cognac is at its best with a great aroma and perfect nose.
If Cognac were to become warm, it could lose some of its valuable alcohol content. Fortunately, Cognac is fitted with a tight cork that makes a glorious pop when uncorked, synonymous with drinking Cognac.
Does Cognac get better with age?
Sadly no. Once the Cognac is bottled, the maturing process ceases, much like other liquors. But it would be wonderful to pour a drink from a very old Cognac bottle and marvel at the robust contents that maintain their character for decades.
How long can Cognac sit out?
In a room with a stable temperature, a bottle of unopened Cognac could sit out indefinitely without spoiling, providing it was cool and away from direct sunlight or, more importantly, UV rays.
Storing Cognac upright in a cool environment, such as average room temperature, is the perfect way to store Cognac. Once opened then, the story changes once the Cognac is exposed to oxygen, and the degradation process starts.
However, sealing Cognac correctly could see your bottle last for many years, and if it does degrade, it will do so very slowly. Signs of degradation would start with subtle changes in the flavor profile and maybe a change in color to a darker tone of gold or light brown, depending on the Cognac.
How long does Cognac last in the fridge?
Cognac is not a liquor to be refrigerated. It becomes subdued and loses its smooth character. It’s best enjoyed at room temperature.
Keeping Cognac in the fridge will not extend its shelf life. In fact, it may shorten the life of Cognac. Corks are meant to be sealed tight in the bottleneck and never dry out. Keeping Cognac in a fridge could cause premature drying of the cook, which would allow the alcohol content of the Cognac to evaporate and ruin the Cognac.
Does Cognac go bad in the freezer?
For the purist suggesting placing Cognac in the freezer is fighting talk, which could result in ten paces at dawn. However, not all of us are aficionados and like to experiment with liquors.
Cognac will not go bad in the freezer, but it will change the texture of the drink. The Cognac will become thicker and more viscous if you like and have a velvety feel when drinking it, and it is said to be the perfect match for eating seafood such as crustaceans.
After saying that, if you want to enjoy Cognac’s aroma and full-bodied flavor profile, it is best served at room temperature. Remember, Cognac does not like temperature fluctuations!
Does Cognac go bad when stored in a decanter at 90 degrees?
There is no set period of time a Cognac can be stored in a decanter providing the decanter has a good seal. However, as soon as the Cognac is exposed to air, it starts to deteriorate and evaporate. This will occur more quickly the more air there is in the bottle.
You can pour the contents into a smaller decanter if you like. This helps to reduce the deterioration process by ensuring the air-to-liquid ratio stays as low as feasible.
The oxidation rates that impact the Cognac’s flavor and appearance might increase with a rise in temperature. On the other hand, a sealed bottle is unaffected by intense heat. To prevent cork deterioration, it is advised to store it at room temperature and in a dark place.
Is Cognac high in sugar?
It is always a mystery as you sip on your Cognac, thinking if the pounds are going to be piling on, but the truth is Cognac does not have sugar, carbs, or fats. In contrast, it has no beneficial protein or fiber.
The USDA supplies the information, so it is a reliable source.
Is Cognac suitable for vegans?
100% vegans can enjoy Cognac. Cognac is a pure drink. It does not contain any animal products or allergens and is gluten and lactose-free, making this the perfect drink for vegetarians and vegans.
Different types of Cognac
Does Martell’s very fine Cognac go bad?
According to Martell, their Cognac is fine and does not deteriorate in the bottle. An unopened bottle of Martel’s very fine Cognac will last indefinitely if it is stored correctly in a cool room and not exposed to sunlight.
Once the seal is broken, Martell says that their Cognac can last for 100 years without degradation and noticeable taste variations.
However, most people think that once Cognac is open, it has a shelf life of six to eighteen months before it is not drinkable.
The key to Cognac’s longevity is the way it is stored, and primarily the bottle or decanter is sealed, keeping the air out and the alcohol in.
Does courvoisier Cognac go bad?
Courvoisier recommends that you consume the bottle of Cognac within one year of purchasing the bottle. This will allow you to enjoy the full flavors present in the Cognac. But this is the end of the line if the bottle is more than a year old.
Unopened Courvoisier will last indefinitely if stored in a dark, cool environment. An open bottle does change the rules slightly, but it can and will last longer than a year.
Once the liquor is opened, it starts to degrade, it’s a fact you can’t get away from, but you can control how quickly it degrades.
If you leave Cognac exposed to oxygen, it will degrade faster, so if you have a bottle that has been shared during an evening. A half has been consumed, decanting the Courvoisier into a smaller bottle reducing the volume of air to liquid.
This will reduce the oxidation process, it may seem like a hassle, but you can save your cash and still be drinking Cognac that is in good condition the next time you have guests over.
Cognac is shelf stable, and if unopened and stored correctly, such as upright and in a cool dark room without bright sunlight, Cognac can last indefinitely.
Opened Cognac can have a long shelf life if stirred correctly and reduce exposure to oxygen, so you may need to decant your Cognac into a smaller bottle.
Drink responsibly and don’t drink and drive.