Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Lydia Martin
You’ll often see meals paired with classic wine or craft beer, as their mild flavor profiles won’t overpower the star of the show (the food, of course).
And while it’s true that most spirits are way too aggressive to be paired with most foods, the principle does not hold with cognac.
Cognac’s rich and fruity profile makes it the perfect complement to various foods. But really, what goes good with cognac?
Top 10 Cognac Food Pairings
Duck is a classic pairing with cognacs because its dark, meaty flavors allow much of the spirit’s natural flavors to shine through.
It is also immensely succulent and fatty, which, when sipped with a well-rounded and velvety cognac, allows for a glorious mouthfeel.
The iconic Asian Peking duck works extremely well with an XO cognac because of its naturally sweet and sour profile.
A creamy foie gras is another elegant pair whose buttery, full-bodied texture complements a well-aged bottle’s robust, deep notes.
Mushrooms and cognacs are probably one of the most popular food pairings, and the flavors get even more synced if the ‘shrooms are sauteed using that same cognac .
The dark profile of mushroom risottos or bordelaise will pair nicely with older XO bottles, while younger cognacs will elevate those simply sauteed with just a touch of butter and some salt.
We find that the mushrooms’ natural umami and foresty notes pair harmoniously with the cognac’s fruity, nutty, and woodsy taste (thanks to the grapes sourced from the Cognac region).
Like wine, cognac also goes good with cheese. When pairing cheese with cognac, here’s a general rule of thumb: younger cheese works better with younger cognac, while older or more mature cheeses taste better with older cognac.
Feta and Irish cheddar cheeses pair extremely well with VS cognac because the saltiness of the cheese can complement the acidity and tannins of the liquor.
On the other hand, you’ll be able to appreciate XO cognacs more if they’re drunk with older, creamier cheeses that have a little funk, like Camembert, Bleu, aged gouda, and parmesan cheeses.
Unlike other spirits like bourbon and whiskey, cognac won’t overpower the delicate flavors of seafood.
The fruity and tangy profile of cognacs is a great pairing to the ocean-like and saline profile of fresh sushi and oysters.
We find that younger cognacs with a fruity apricot profile pair better with sushi, like tuna, salmon, or eel.
Meanwhile, older, aged bottles, like a VSOP, complement the meaty richness of lobsters or crabs more.
6. Glazed Pork or Sweeter Pork Belly
Like champagne, cognac also pairs extremely well with dark meats like pork.
We find that glazed pork or pork belly has the right amount of sticky sweetness and meatiness that perfectly complements a glass of our favorite Rémy Martin.
You can also use the same cognac as an ingredient for the pork glaze to make the flavor throughout the dish more coherent once paired with the drink.
5. Bayonne Ham
The French Bayonne ham is a classic pairing with a glass of cognac. This dry-cured ham has terrific umami and a melt-in-your-mouth texture.
We find that a few slices work extremely well as an appetizer, served with chilled cognac (or wine) as an aperitif.
Coffee and cognac are always a great pairing. The bitterness of black coffee complements the more fruity, tangy, and woodsy notes of cognac.
You can make the coffee and cognac pairing fancier by topping it off with whipped cream, shaved chocolate, and a cinnamon stick.
However, we find that the classic black coffee with a shot of cognac is more than enough for our palate.
3. Red Fruits
Red fruits like strawberries, raspberries, and cherries are a natural pairing with cognacs.
Their acidity and tanginess only emphasize this liquor’s oaky profile. Dried fruit will do just fine, but fresh red fruits are best.
Traditionally, people drink cognac (a grape-based brandy) after dinner, which is why you’ll find that this alcohol pairs extremely well with various desserts.
This dessert drink’s vanilla profile will greatly complement souffle and cakes like raspberry, Chambord mousse, or even delicious ice creams.
Chocolates and cognac make for some of the best dessert pairings. When choosing chocolate for your cognac, a general rule of thumb is: the darker the chocolate, the older the cognac.
Softer chocolates pair perfectly well with the fruity notes of a VS cognac, and a VSOP bottle will complement the berry notes of chocolate-covered strawberries.
High-quality dark chocolate bars, mousse, and truffles will allow more of the XO cognac’s dried fruit, baking spice, ginger, and oak notes to shine through.
What juice is best with cognac?
Orange juice is the best pairing with cognac. The combination of orange juice and cognac is the foundation of some classic cognac cocktails like the Sidecar cocktail.
You will also find that cognac pairs well with lemon juice, like in the cognac cocktail French 75.
Is cognac an appetizer?
Not really. Cognac is more of an after-dinner drink than it is an appetizer. Cognac has a full and rich profile, which might not work the best as an appetizer as it kills the palate.
We recommend using dry, crisp drinks as aperitifs. You can try champagne, fortified wines, or a classic Martini, as these sharpen the appetite.
So, Which Food Goes Good With Cognac?
Various food pairs extremely well with cognac, but the best option would be the classic dark chocolate and cognac pairing.
Cognac also pairs excellently with dark meats like duck, seafood like oysters and sushi, and cheeses like parmesan and Bleu.
It’s always best to remember that darker, richer foods will work well with older, well-aged cognac, like XOs, while those with fresher, more delicate tastes fare better with lighter-bodied cognac.
Think dark chocolate with XOs, and white chocolate with VSOPs.