Cognac Pairing Etiquette: What Food for What Cognac?

Cognac Pairing Etiquette: What Food for What Cognac?

Cognac Pairing Etiquette: What Food for What Cognac?Ahead of 2016 spring and summer celebrations, the Cognac Board (BNIC) revealed today top chef recommendations on how to pair the flavorful spirit with some of America’s favorite seasonal dishes.  Indeed, Cognac is a spirit of choice that can also be paired with light and delicate types of food.

Understanding basic guidelines is the secret to a successful pairing, although just like with wines if you love cognac you are more likely to enjoy it with a wide range of dishes,” said Chef Ken Arnone from D’cuisine in New York

  1. Match texture

Matching texture is key when pairing with Cognac. Below are few examples:

  • Lobster and Frozen Cognac – Ice cold, the lively citrus notes of the Cognac embraces the soft skin texture of the lobster.
  • Caviar and XO Cognac – Rich and luxurious, the caviar will soften the Cognac.
  • Crème Brulée and VS Cognac – The fondant texture and the thin crisp caramel layer immediately attenuate the VS sensation.

“Whether you prefer to seek out similarities or contrasting elements in the components, you absolutely must be sure to match texture,” said Chef Fernando Navas from Balvanera Restaurant, New York.

  1. Create a gastronomic synergy, where 1+1 = 3

Try finding a dish that unveils a note in the Cognac. Below are few examples:

  • Sea Scallops and VS Cognac – The Cognac’s citrus notes highlight the shellfish’s delicate flesh. The butter makes an excellent bridge, which flatters the Cognac and brings out its hazelnut notes.
  • Tarte Tatin and VSOP Cognac – The light almond notes in the Cognac, together with its smooth texture, complement the dessert.

“The goal is not just to find things that go well together, but to create a match where the food brings out something new in the Cognac Chef Ken Arnone from D’cuisine in New York said

  1. Match weights

Weight is key, a lighter Cognac will tend to work well with a lighter flavored dish, whereas a bolder Cognac will work with a more heavily flavored dish.

  • Oysters and VSOP Cognac – The sweetness of the Cognac and the saltiness of oysters strike a nice balance on the palate.
  • Roquefort and VS Cognac – The food and the Cognac have massive flavors; ensuring one does not dominate the other.
  • Dark chocolate and XO Cognac – Dark chocolate is the best partner for an XO, the older the Cognac is, and the better it pairs.

“XO pair perfectly with lush cheeses and rich chocolate desserts, the matching ensures that one does not drown out the other.” Chef Jennifer Cole from Bayona, New Orleans

  1. Fatty food and Cognac

Food cooked with fat will have a natural affinity with Cognac, below are few examples:

  • Bayonne Ham and VS Cognac – The Cognac will cut through the fat, and complement the meat.
  • Triple Cream Cheese and VSOP Cognac – The match plays on the fat and the creaminess of the triple cream cheese.

“Food that are more moist and fatty, like duck legs, sausage, ham, pate etc., have a natural bond with Cognac” said Chef Ken Arnone from D’cuisine in New York,

  1. Avoid strong spices

Strong spices will reduce the ability to taste subtler flavors in the Cognac. “I would say stay away from very strong flavors such as spices and garlic, the Cognac is so delicate, why spoil it?” said Chef Will Torrent from Barry Callebaut, London UK.

About BNIC:

Founded in 1946, the Cognac Board (BNIC) is a trade association that represents cognac growers, producers, and merchants. Cognac is a Geographical Indication that follows specific rules of production and originates from a delimited area in the South-West of France. For more information, please visit or