Recently, fine champagne cognac brand Rémy Martin took us on a trip to Pilanesberg Game Reserve for a cognac tasting experience in the wilderness.

We were shown the proper way to appreciate a fine cognac – it’s more than just a drink; it’s an experience. To fine-tune your palette, here are the three stages you should go through to get the most out of your nip, or two, of cognac.

There are three senses involved in the tasting of cognac: sight, smell and taste. All three senses help to tell the story of the drink.

READ MORE: How Rémy Martin got it right with its latest campaign

SIGHT

When you pour the cognac into a glass, the first thing you should do is swirl it around and observe the beads of alcohol on the sides of the glass. The softer the “legs” or “tears” that run down, the more complex a particular cognac is.

The second thing to observe is the colour of the cognac – it will be either light golden brown or a really dark colour. This often indicates the age of the cognac. (Though this isn’t always the case, as some brands add caramel to their cognacs to give it a darker shade.)

SMELL 

Hold the glass just in front of your chin and slowly inhale the aromas. Try to visualise the different elements you can small, focusing on the spicy and flowery notes. A younger cognac will have sweeter, more fruity and flowery notes, while an older drink will exude harsher, more jammy notes. It’s not uncommon to come across some notes of vanilla as well.

READ MORE: Cognac cocktail recipes for your sophisticated palate

TASTE

And now for the best part of the experience, the reason you’re holding a glass of cognac in the first place – the taste. Take a small sip of the drink and let it linger in your mouth for a few seconds so you can suss out the different nuances. Letting it linger allows the drink to touch the various taste areas on your tongue – this brings out all the different levels of flavour and the depth of the cognac.

After you swallow, notice how long the taste lingers in your mouth – the longer it stays, the better the cognac.

And there you have it – a fine glass of cognac perfectly enjoyed.