1. All Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy can be considered Cognac.
2. 60 percent of Cognac consumption in the world is diluted—either it’s served on the rocks, with water, or mixed in cocktails.
3. Coloring can legally be added to Cognacs to ensure consistency.
4. For a brandy to be called Cognac, it must be made from specified grape varieties grown in the AOC (a majority of Ugni Blanc, with small portions of Colombard and Folle Blanche allowed), double-distilled in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in Limousin or Tronçais oak barrels. Cognac must be at least 40 percent alcohol.
5. The designations you see on Cognac labels—VS (Very Special), VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) and XO (Extra Old)—are a guarantee of how long a Cognac has been aged. VS indicates that the Cognac has been aged at least two years, VSOP at least four years, and XO (Extra Old) at least six years. Most Cognacs are aged much longer, however, featuring a blend of Eaux de vie that can date back decades.