The consumption of cognac is a whole culture, permeated with many rituals and conventions. To get real pleasure from drinking a drink, you need to choose the right product. The times when strong high-quality alcohol was in short supply are long gone – today the choice is huge, so you can buy products for every taste and budget.

The main reference point for the consumer is the bottle label. It indicates the name of the drink, its strength, capacity, the name of the manufacturer and accessory.

Letters or stars

The indicated letter designations and symbols can confuse an unknowing person, but it is quite simple to deal with them. With asterisks, everything is simple and clear – one star equals a year of exposure. Traditionally, a drink is considered to be of high quality if it is “awarded” with five stars, the minimum quantity for acceptable quality is three.

With letters, everything is a little more complicated, but it is also quite simple to understand:

  • VS – the drink has been aged for two years;
  • VO – aging period three years;
  • VSOP – four year old cognac;
  • VVSOP – five years old.

Cognac designations, photo

Elite alcohol contains other designations on the label, so XO means that the cognac was aged for 6 years, there are also additions “Extra” and “Napoleon”, such a product belongs to the premium segment and is aged from 20 to 50 years. Knowing how to read the label correctly, you can easily choose a good drink, both for yourself and as a gift – good alcohol will be a worthy present for any man.

History of lettering

The abbreviation that we read when choosing cognac is deciphered quite simply. XO stands for Extra Old, and VSOP stands for Very Superior Old Pale (very old pale cognac). From these words, various combinations are formed, which are indicated on the front of the bottle. The introduction of this designation has its own history, this method of determining age and quality was introduced in 1817 in Britain, by order of the royal court.

Do not think that the word “pale” has some negative meaning, on the contrary. To the crowned heads, this directive informed that the drink was produced naturally, without the addition of dyes, burnt sugar and other substances that could affect the color.

Glass with cognac, photo

Where are the stars on the drink

If the letter designation is accepted all over the world, which is guided by the National Interprofessional Bureau of Cognac, then why in our country they are used to measuring quality with asterisks? The thing is that in the Soviet Union everything was its own, and therefore the cognac was produced according to the established standards, and the Soviet designations were fixed.

It is interesting that the quality of Armenian brandy is recognized not only by domestic lovers of strong alcohol, but also by the French – they appreciated the product from Armenia. The bottles are also presented with letter designations, but translated into Russian. OS – a very old drink (from 20 years old), KS – old cognac (10-20 years old), KVVK – aged cognac of the highest quality (from 8 years old), KV – 6-8 years old.


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