Soul Warmer

Cognac, world famed for its edgy burn and nuance, is ideal for the holidays

Five hours southwest of Paris by car lies the Charente, a lush agricultural area known for sappy melons, slimy escargots, earthy mushrooms and, of course, one of the world's most famed spirits, Cognac. A perfect winter sipper, Cognac warms the body and, if you let your imagination run wild, the soul. With its edgy burn, it also has plenty of nuance and spice, which make it ideal for the festive, mellow moments of the holiday season.

To be labeled Cognac, the spirits must be produced in the Cognac region from grapes--these days, mostly ugni blanc--grown in any of the six appellations...

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