When Lance and I visited Paris last March, we spent our first afternoon in the city checking out the Eiffel Tower. When we got there it was pouring rain, then it suddenly turned into hail, not to mention that it was freezing outside. By the time we made it to the top the hail and rain had stopped, but it was still quite cold.
We hovered near the concession stand inside and I saw a little sign that said ‘Vin Chaud” – I remembered enough high school French to know that meant hot wine or as we know it here, hot mulled wine. I jumped in line and got us each a glass. We found a bench and sipped it to warm up while looking out over Paris.
I’d had mulled wine a couple times before that, but something about that wine was amazing. Maybe it was because I was in Pairs drinking French wine at the top of the Eiffel tower with my husband or maybe I’ve just never been cold enough to appreciate it - whatever the reason, my mind was certainly changed.
I set out to make some Vin Chaud at home that tasted great and brought back those memories of Paris, so I cooked up a batch for the next drink of my 12 Cocktails of Christmas series.
With mulled wine you don’t need to use a fancy wine. We are adding all sorts of other flavors so something inexpensive and simple works great here. I have used both Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon for this and loved them both. So just use your favorite red (I’m sure you could use a white too!).
I like to keep things simple for serving so I place all the spices in a piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter and tie it up with a little bakers twine to keep everything in one place. This make serving a breeze. If you don’t have either of those you can let the spices float around in the pot with the wine, then just run the mixture through a strainer before serving.
Personally, I love to serve this for parties. I throw a double (or triple) batch of everything in my slow cooker an hour or so before the party, then by the time the guests arrive the house smells fabulous. it’s a delicious low maintenance drink since the slow cooker keeps it warm. Just throw in a ladle, put out some mugs, and a few orange slices to garnish.
Vin Chaud generally isn’t too sweet, but it’s easy to add more to adjust to your tastes and to the sweetness of your wine. I suggest starting with less and tasting it along the way to see if you need to add more.
- 1 (750 ml) bottle red wine
- 1/4 -1/3 cup sugar
- 1 orange, sliced - plus more to garnish
- 1/2 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
- 10 whole cloves
- 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks, plus more to garnish
- 1 whole star anise
Pour wine into a 3 quart (or larger) slow cooker*. Stir in sugar and add orange slices. Scape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the wine mixture and add in the pod.
Place cloves, cinnamon sticks, and star anise on a small square of cheesecloth or a coffee filter**. Bring up sides and tie together with bakers twine to secure contents. Place spice satchel into the wine mixture.
Heat in slow cooker on low for 2-3 hours (or on high for 1 hour). To serve, remove and discard vanilla bean, orange slices and spice satchel. Place slow cooker on warm to maintain temperature.
Ladle mulled wine into mugs and garnish each cup with an orange slice and a cinnamon stick to serve.
*Mulled wine can also be made on the stovetop. Heat wine mixture (made as directed above) over medium heat for 30-45 minutes.
**Alternatively spices can be placed directly into the wine mixture. Before serving, pour mulled wine through a fine mesh strainer to remove and discard spices.