Knowing brandy snifter etiquette is essential if you are ever going to enjoy this after dinner cordial. Brandy is a derivative of wine and is produced through distillation. While brandy can vary depending on where and how it was produced, the three main types are: grape brandy, fruit brandy, and pomace brandy.
The proper glass to use when serving brandy is a snifter. A snifter is a short-stemmed glass that resembles a balloon. With its wide bottom and narrow top, a snifter is specifically used when drinking brandy so that the aroma can be trapped in the glass.
In general, a snifter holds approximately eight fluid ounces. However, when serving brandy, no more than three ounces should ever be poured into the glass. In fact, if you were to lay a snifter on its side (with the brandy in it), it should lay in such a way that the brandy would not fall out. Filling the glass with any more liquid would disrupt the oxidation and release of aromas.
Sometimes when brandy is served, the snifter glass is heated beforehand by swirling hot water around in the glass. However, once the brandy is poured into the snifter, a napkin can then be placed over the narrow opening of the snifter to retain the heat.
In addition, brandy snifters are to be held in the palms of both hands to warm the brandy. By rolling the snifter between both hands and then cupping it in one hand, this warming effect will help to open up the flavor of the brandy, while the unique shape of the snifter allows the brandy to breathe.
So, if you intend on drinking a high quality brandy at your next dinner party, ice or a mixer should never be used as this will sabotage the flavor of the brandy. Save the inexpensive brandy for drinks that are mixed. Remember, the purpose of brandy is for sipping – not gulping.