Several years ago I went to Paris with my friend Becki for a long weekend during a particularly cold December. In all of the excitement for Christmas markets, cheese fondue and swanning around Montmartre, I must admit that I did not pack appropriately, and took a relatively thin coat, leggings (no actual trousers) and little in the way of clothes with thermal properties. There were two French words that we used more than any other during that trip, and they were ‘Vin Chaud’. Vin Chaud translates literally to ‘hot wine’ and is typically made with red wine, sugar, cinnamon and lemon. I am going to make a confession here and admit that on some nights we were so cold that we heated up cheap red wine from the supermarket in the hotel kettle just to keep warm (I wonder if they ever got that red stain out…) The third word we learnt pretty quickly was tire-bouchon – which is French for corkscrew…
When Waitrose Cellar recently got in touch to share their own mulled wine recipe and ask if I wanted to blog about my favourite mulled wine recipe from around the world, I knew the French ‘Vin Chaud’ had to be the one. I eagerly got to hunting around for the perfect recipe and came across this one, which originates from Alsace in France. The region of Alsace is located on France’s eastern border and on the west bank of the upper Rhine adjacent to Germany and Switzerland, so with all of those cultural influences, I thought they might know a thing or two about mulled wine.
I adapted the recipe slightly to make it a little simpler and leave out an ingredient I couldn’t get hold of – so this is my version of ‘Vin Chaud Alsacien’…
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 bottle red wine (I used Waitrose Torre Del Falco – on reflection, I probably should have used a French wine; this Alsatian Pinot Noir would have been perfect)
1 cup sugar
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 cup water
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
1 cardamom pod
1 tablespoon cocoa nibs (or use good-quality grated chocolate)
1 cinnamon stick
2 tea bags
Place all ingredients except the tea bags into a saucepan (when you add the lemon wedges, squeeze their juice into the mixture before dropping the wedges in.)
Bring to an active simmer; reduce heat to a low simmer and add the tea bags, allowing the tea to steep for 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove the tea bags and the bay leaf.
To serve, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into heatproof mugs. Makes 4 servings.
This makes a mulled wine that is very rich, with a hint of spice – it so warming, like a hug in a mug! You can taste the hint of chocolate, it adds a really lovely edge to the drink. I couldn’t help but gulp it down – oops… It would be perfect to pop into a flask and take out a winter evening walk.
What’s your favourite mulled wine recipe? Are you a fan of the German Glühwein or the Swedish Glögg? You can always go for the Waitrose Cellar Mulled Wine if you don’t feel like concocting a recipe, but I highly recommend giving this one a try!