This recipe comes from my boyfriend's mother, Isabelle. I originally asked for her spiced wine recipe for this contest, which I tried last Christmas, ladled from a pot heated over the wood-burning fireplace in their family room. She told me that she didn't really have a written recipe for her spiced wine; it was just a little of this and a little of that, but offered me her Cognac Punch instead. Since she comes from Cognac, it feels extra authentic. This punch would be great for any holiday party, because it looks and tastes so festive! —Cristina Sciarra
The day or night before the party, cut 3 of the lemons into slices. In a mortar and pestle, rough them up with the Cognac and the sugar. Cover with plastic, and refrigerate, at least 4 hours.
In a punch bowl, pour in the sugar/Cognac mixture; discard the lemon slices. Pour in all the white wine, and stir to incorporate. Slice the remaining lemon, and let them float at the top of the punch bowl.
Right before serving, pour in the Champagne. Give it a quick stir to mix, and voila!
Cristina is a writer, cook, and day job real estate developer. She studied literature, holds an MFA in Fiction Writing, and completed the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She lives in Jersey City with her husband--a Frenchman she met in Spain--and their sweet black cat, Minou. Follow her writings, recipes, publications and photography at theroamingkitchen.com.