Vin chaud, is a lovely, mildly spiced, warming hot wine drink. Though this winter tipple is often thought to be only for special occasions, in recent years, it has become trendy. The timing of the increased popularity is, coincidentally, running alongside the rise of winter sports activities such as skiing and snowboarding. This lovely hot wine drink is also a perfect addition to a winter cocktail party menu.
Choose the wine for your Vin Chaud carefully though. Never use wine for the drink that you would not drink as a regular wine, if it is not good enough to serve at a dinner, then it will not work warm either. One of the main criticisms of Vin Chaud by people who do not like it is that it is acidic, or bitter tasting; this is the quality of the wine, not the recipe. For the best flavor, use a young, fruity, red wine, more aged wines, especially those matured in oak will have heavy tannins and can be bitter when warmed.
- 1 x 5-inch by ½-inch piece of orange zest
- 1 bottle good quality red wine
- 4 small cinnamon sticks
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 cardamon pods
- 5 whole cloves
- 1/3 cup good quality Cognac
How to make your lovely vin chaud:
Before you begin, take the orange zest and carefully remove as much of the white pith as you can, if left on this will also make the wine bitter when heated.
Mix all the ingredients, including the orange zest, together in a large saucepan.
Bring the mixture to just below a simmer over the lowest heat setting on the stovetop. Do not allow the wine to boil as this will destroy the flavor.
The mulled wine is hot enough when the sugar has dissolved and pulling and lifting a spoon from the wine brings up steam. This gentle heat will also be the temperature for keeping the wine warm, never any hotter.
If you wish, strain the spices from the wine by pouring it through a fine-mesh sieve or a cheesecloth-lined colander, but these can also be kept in which will continue to develop the longer they are in there, it is all a matter of taste.
Once the wine is the strength you wish, add 1-2 teaspoons of Cognac to a warmed mug and ladle the mulled wine over it. There are also special heavy, handled, glasses for mulled wine, but a cup can also work just as well.
Variations on Traditional Vin Chaud: As above, the best wine is a fruity, reasonably young red wine, it does not need to be expensive just a decent quality. You can switch out the Cognac for whisky, or even a splash of Amaretto can be a lovely alternative, almondy flavor though Cognac is the usual addition.