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What is a Brandy Snifter?

A brandy snifter is a short, wide, stemmed glass used to serve (you guessed it) brandy. It resembles an extraordinarily squat wine glass, with a voluminous bowl and low center of gravity. A snifter can be used for any spirit (and a number of cocktails), but it’s most commonly associated with cognac, other brandies, whiskey, and port or other fortified wines. Snifter glasses can, of course, be enlisted for other beverages, too. There are no serious rules here, just customary serves. 

The brandy snifter is designed with two purposes in mind: evaporation and concentration of aromas. Its wide bowl creates a large surface area for the liquid, which allows the volatile, aromatic compounds plenty of room to waft off the liquor. The wide base then narrows into a smaller opening, which concentrates those compounds and prevents them from escaping in all directions (like a coupe glass or rocks glass might). Take a sniff of your drink and you’ll see what we mean; the wide base keeps the alcohol from being overwhelming, but the spirit’s fragrance remains front and center. 

From there, it’s a simple matter of gently raising the glass to your nose and enjoying the aromas before taking a sip. And because your nose is directly related to taste, you may find more flavors when sipping from a snifter than from other glasses. 

It’s easy to see why the snifter has proven so popular. It’s a straightforward design that’s comfortable to hold—either by the short stem or by cradling the bowl of the glass in your hand—and it adds a nice touch of class to the presentation of your favorite spirit.

A snifter glass may also be known as a brandy glass.

Drinks served in the Brandy Snifter