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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Vin Chaud (Hot Mulled Wine)


One might think that vin chaud, pronounced "van show" and also known as hot mulled wine, is an unusual thing to find in France, where it's taken so seriously. The French pay careful attention to the region where it's produced, the foods with which it's paired, and the temperature at which it's served. So I was surprised in a very good way when I first found vin chaud at a Marché de Noël (Christmas market) in Toulouse, years ago. Warming and slightly spicy, it's still one of my favorite cold-weather drinks.

It's also a healthy choice. Red wine is full of healthy antioxidants, especially pinot noir varieties, and the spices in this recipe are anti-inflammatory and some of them have even been shown to improve blood sugar control and support the body's natural detoxification pathways. (Read more about their health benefits on page 64 of my new book, The Prediabetes Detox.)

While white wine versions exist, vin chaud is traditionally made from fruity reds like Bordeaux, Bourgogne, and other pinot noir varieties. You can use leftover wine or an inexpensive but decent bottle like Beaujolais Noveau, since you'll be spicing it up anyway.

The spices can be tailored to your tastes or you can simply use what you have on hand. I used cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, peppercorn, ginger, and orange peel, but you could easily add or substitute star anise, fennel seeds, or lemon peel. 

1 cinnamon stick
6 cloves
6 green cardamom pods
3 black peppercorns
2 slices fresh ginger root 
 Several pieces of organic orange peel (from one small orange or half a large one) 
1 bottle fruity red wine
 ¼ cup cognac
¼ cup honey

Add the dry spices (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, peppercorn) to a stainless steel saucepan and warm them over medium heat for a minute or two until they become fragrant. Add the fresh spices (ginger and orange peel) and wine. Cover and continue heating until the mixture comes just to a simmer. Do not boil the wine.

When bubbles begin to rise to the surface, turn off the heat, leave the cover in place, and steep for 15 minutes or more (longer for a spicier wine).

Stir in the cognac and honey. Reheat until just steaming, then strain and serve immediately.

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