Books and Cognac: the perfect bed-fellows, wouldn’t you agree? So, with World Book Day 2020 upon us, the Cognac Expert team were keen to determine not only the best-selling literature of all time, but which eau-de-vie best represented the soul of the printed words.

After all, a classic read demands the ultimate drinking partner. And what defines a moment of luxury better than curling up with a good book and a glass of something rather special to sip? So kick back, pour a generous splash, and join us as we discover the perfect Cognac to pair with some of the best-selling books of all time.

#1 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Selling over 500 million copies, the book about the aging knight, Alonso Quijano, delights with the adventures of a hopeless romantic. The protagonist, Don Quixote, has read so many stories of chivalry that he believes this is the path along which his future lies. Along with his squire, Sancho Panza, he hits the road on a quest like no other…

A true classic, we had to think long and hard about what Cognac might best represent this Spanish masterpiece. Eventually we settled on a delight that, much in the same way as the lead character of the book, is a noble hero that remains true to its roots and traditions of all that came before it.

Andre Petit XO Tres Rare Cognac

For us, the perfect Cognac that defines the paragon of literature that is Don Quixote has to be Andre Petit XO Tres Rare. Round, smooth, and delicately complex, this is a Cognac that personifies all that we love about the knight-errant who takes the starring role in this epic tale.

And of course, there are many similarities between the hero of the tale and cellar master of the house, Jacques Petit (our neighbor and good friend). He works tirelessly to bring his Cognacs to market without relying on any big brand contract. In today’s crazy Corona-world he’s fighting to continue to produce his artisan brand—as are so many other producers—and is truly the archetype of an authentic Cognac creator.

#2 A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A classic that tells the story of Paris and France during the French Revolution, this saga of love epitomizes the strength of a variety of human emotions. Over 200 million copies have been sold to date, delighting readers of all ages across the globe.

Selecting a Cognac that truly represented the words penned by the legendary Charles Dickens certainly took some contemplation. But in the end we had to go with an eau-de-vie from a house whose fledgling roots first took hold during this tumultuous period of history—that of Courvoisier. 

Courvoisier Initiale Extra Cognac

We’ve gone for the multi-award winning Courvoisier Initiale Extra, a beautiful blend of Grande Champagne and Borderies eaux-de-vie presented in a delicate teardrop-shaped decanter—perfectly depicting the many that were wept during one of Europe’s bloodiest periods…

#3 Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

If you’ve only seen the movies then you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of this incredible tale. After all, 150 million purchasers are tantamount to quite how good this weighty tomb actually is.

Middle Earth and the battle for “my precious” has to be represented by a Cognac that glints like The Eye of Sauron and, naturally, sparkles in the manner of The One Ring that Frodo so diligently delivers.

L’Or de Jean Martell

There was no question as to which Cognac this should be. It was an unanimous decision that the exceptional L’Or de Jean Martell had to take the top spot. With a bottle that reminds us of an Ork decanter, the 400 eaux-de-vie that make up the blend makes for a magical red-toned dragon elixir just beckoning to be tasted. Quite simply, no better choice for a Cognac to be enjoyed while reading a book that everyone should experience at least once in their life…

#4 The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

A tale of discovery, you’ll be excused for assuming this is merely a children’s tale. In fact, the French written, Le Petit Prince, is a favorite of many adults around the globe. The poignant messages contained within its pages are often used in meditation, with important communications about how we can truly begin understand the world in which we live.

Prince Polignac Reserve du Prince

A book boasting a royal name of course has to be represented by a Cognac of equal stature. We’ve gone for the rather regal Prince Polignac Reserve du Prince. This elegant Grande Champagne offering is showcased in a wonderful wooden presentation box that opens to reveal the jewel within. What a great analogy to delving beneath the surface to discover the truth of how to understand the world around us and live your best possible life.

#5 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

The first in this famous series, the tale of the boy wizard’s humble beginnings soon take an adventurous turn as he turns 11 and heads to Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft. 107 million sales later, the book is well-deserving of its place in this list, and readers young and old continue to purchase and enjoy J.K’s well-penned words.

Now, while we certainly don’t condone underage drinking (even for wizards!), Harry develops a penchant for Butterbeer during his school years. This got us thinking about what Cognac could possibly be associated with this classic.

ABK6 Honey Liqueur Cognac

Of course, our choice had to lean to the sweeter side of Cognac, and nothing hits the spot better than the honeyed tones of ABK6 Honey Liqueur—plus the bottle and cheeky tassel addition makes us think of witches… While not technically a Cognac, this young Fins Bois liqueur has won industry awards and has proved a very popular addition to the ABK6 range.

6. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

With 80 million copies sold around the world, this is a tale that, once read, opens a whole fictional world about the story of Jesus Christ as we know it. Of course, we all know that it’s a work from the mind of Monsieur Brown, but it got us thinking about what Cognac had its roots in religion.

One sprang immediately to mind—a Cognac that was born from the unlikely detritus of the Battle of Jarnac—a bloody clash fought in 1569 in a field in Cognac during the third stage of the Wars of Religion. The fighting raged in France from 1562 to 1568, killing an estimated 3 million along the way.

Rémy Martin Louis XIII Cognac

But we’ll bet you didn’t know that it was this very battle that inspired Paul-Emile Remy Martin to create what is perhaps one of the most famous Cognacs in the world today—Louis XIII. Cradled in its unmistakable Baccarat Crystal decanter, the most challenging issue faced by those fortunate enough to own a bottle or two is whether to keep it or drink it. A rather nice problem to have, we have to say…

#8 The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The delightful “follow your dreams” novel that is the Alchemist has racked up an impressive 65 million sales since being published 1n 1988. We follow the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who pursues his prophetic dream to the land of Egypt, where he meets with the alchemist after whom the book is named.

Normandin Mercier Grande Champagne 10-Year 2006 Vintage Cognac

Of course, the alchemy of Cognac creation is the very reason we so love this classic French drink. And our choice to pair with this much-loved work of fiction? It’s none other than the apothecary-esque bottle that cradles the  Normandin Mercier Grande Champagne 10-Year 2006 Vintage, a Grande Champagne work of art produced from a sealed barrel of that year in a limited batch of around 100 bottles.

#8 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Selling an impressive 50 million copies since it was first published in 1955, this disturbing, yet beautifully written, novel is an addictive page-turner, despite the shocking subject. Choosing a Cognac that adequately represented the book’s subject was a challenge, although the one thing we were all united on was that it had to be a light, feminine offering.

Fanny Fougerat Iris Poivrée XO Cognac

This was the unanimous choice from the team. A Cognac from one of the youngest female producers in the industry created from eau-de-vie from the smallest of the terroirs—Borderies. Delicate and oozing aromas of flowers and nature, this XO epitomizes innocence and femininity, yet leaves you with a lingering flavor long after you’ve enjoyed the last sip…

#9 Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

What child can fail to be enchanted by this story of hope, joy, sadness, and every other emotion along the spectrum as we follow the life of the jet black equine from foal to old age. It’s a book that surpasses the role of a purely adolescent novel, and delights those of all ages around the world. With the heart of a lion, Black Beauty was easy to pair with a Cognac that defined the poignant messages the book brings with every turn of the page.

Meukow VS 90 Cognac

With its jet black bottle and inimitable logo of the pouncing panther, this Meukow VS combines dark fruits with just the right amount of spice that truly depicts the soul of the superstar horse who guides the story.  Try it neat or in a cocktail for the ultimate taste experience.

#10 Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

A fascinating piece of trivia regarding what has to be one of the most delightful books of all time is that it’s not actually known how many have been sold around the world. No matter, because suffice to say, it’s a lot! This masterful fantasy world conjures characters that all of us can identify with, from Alice herself to the Mad Hatter and grinning Cheshire Cat.

Alice in Wonderland was perhaps the easiest of all in the list to define which Cognac best represented the story.

Martell Chanteloup XXO Cognac

The fantasy chateau of Chanteloup truly stood out as the obvious choice for this epic tale. The bottle itself represents the magical gate, extensive parklands, and mysterious architecture—what other location on the planet could Wonderland be than Martell’s fairytale home location?

#11 Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Considered to be “the most influential Christian book of the 19th century”, again it’s not clear exactly how many copies have been sold since it was written in 1880. But it’s clear it runs into the millions. This classic telling of wrongdoing, revenge, and eventual forgiveness is loved both in print and on the silver screen. The many times told tale sees our hero enslaved by the Roman Empire, making an aptly-named Cognac immediately spring to mind.

Daniel Bouju Imperium Cognac

Hors d’Age, Grande Champagne, and distinctly heroic in looks, the Daniel Bouju Imperium is perfectly names to represent this classic story. Containing prime terroir eaux-de-vie aged up to 50 years, this uber-aged offering is the perfect sipping partner as you read page after page of adrenaline-fuelled narrative.

Read, Sip, and Enjoy

We’ve only selected eleven of the world’s best-selling books. Other classics include, And Then There Were None (Agatha Christie), The Dream of the Red Chamber (Cao Xuequin), The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkein), She: A History of Adventure (H. Rider Haggard), and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis). The top 25l list can be found here.

Whatever you choose to read, and whatever you choose to sip whilst doing so, we’re sure that you agree with us that a page-turner and a good Cognac is one of the best ways in which to relax. We’d love to know what your favorites are (books and Cognacs), so let us know in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our vibrant and active Cognac Community.

Here’s to finding your next classic—enjoy.

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Jacki has been with Cognac Expert from virtually the beginning. She's the senior editor of the blog, and has spent much of her life living in rural France. Today she's based back in the UK, where she splits her working life between writing for Cognac Expert and working as a Paramedic at a large regional hospital.

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