How To Pair Cognac And Cheese

How To Pair Cognac and Cheese

What Is Cognac?

COGNAC is one of the most iconic spirits. Its origin can be traced all the way back to 1549, at a famous town in the South of France in which it takes its name. Often considered a luxury item, cognac pairs exceptionally well with artisanal cheeses. Is it a coincidence that National Cognac Day and National Cheese Day are both celebrated today? This is one happy coincidence we can get behind. As an hors d’oeuvre, the duo would please even the most discerning of party guests. But before you open your bottle of this decadent liquor and dish out the cheese board, there are a few pairing guidelines you should know. Learn how to pair cognac and cheese as we celebrate National Cognac and Cheese Day.

About Cognac Aging

When it comes to aging, cognac is not unlike wine or other spirits. The aging factor relates directly to quality. Cognacs are broken down into three categories according to age. VS means that the cognac has been aged at a minimum of two years; VSOP is at least four years; and XO (Extra Old) at least six years. Though many cognacs are aged much longer, featuring a blend of eau x de vie that can date back decades.

Pairing Cognacs: The Basics

As a general rule of thumb with cognac and other food pairings, the saltier the food the more compatible it is with old cognacs like (VSOP and XO). The most useful tip to keep in mind is that fresh cheeses generally go with younger cognacs, and mature cheeses with older ones.


(minimum of two years old)
VS cognacs are the most popular type. Great for the beginner cognac connoisseurs, as they are relatively light, fruity and boast a sweet vanilla flavor.

Cheeses to Pair:

Pair young cognacs with the rich and creamy Brillat-Savarin, milder Edams or Roquefort. You can also pair VS cognac with double or triple crème cheeses like Boursault, Explorateur, mascarpone and cheesecake. Young Goudas, mild cheddars, and lighter blues, like Gorgonzola or Brie, also pair great with these versions.


Frozen is a relatively new way of serving VS Cognac, coming straight from the freezer or an ice bucket. This increases its viscosity and sweetness, highlighting the lively citrus notes and tempering the alcoholic bite.

Cheeses to Pair:

Pair VS Frozen cognac with savory Emmental cheeses. For dramatic contrast, go with Roquefort. Other cheeses that go well are mild-flavored alpine cheeses like young Gruyère, milder Bries, and goat cheeses. Pairings can also include flavored cheeses with ham or a hint of chilli or garlic.


A richer, spicier style of cognac where the individual cognacs have been aged for a minimum four years represent the VSOP category. The extra wood aging gives a more tannic structure that needs a stronger cheese to temper it. Think cheeses that go with red wine.

Cheeses to Pair:

Pair VSOP cognac with a mature cheddar, Roquefort or Brie de Meaux. Other exceptional matches are: Cheshire, Lancashire and Red Leicester, mature Goudas, washed rind cheeses like Pont l’Eveque or Epoisses. You could also pair with mellow blues such as Stilton.


XO is considered the best among cognac connoisseurs. It’s a more complex style with notes of grilled nuts and dried fruit. Component cognacs are at least six years old. Smoother with a less obvious, more integrated wood influence than the typical VSOP. They are drier, too, with maybe a touch of rancio (oxidation).

Cheeses to Pair:

Mature Camemberts or Emmental, both help bring out extra flavor. XO cognacs pair well with mature cheddars, Brillat-Savarin, Roquefort, Mimolette, Comté, Gruyère, Beaufort, aged Parmesans or Gouda in addition to mature sheep’s milk cheeses like Manchego. If you’re a fan of the more pungent cheeses like washed rind Espoisses or Livarot, these both pair fantastic with the robust taste of an XO cognac.


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