Vin Chaud – French Mulled Wine

If you ever have the opportunity, do yourself a favor and go visit Paris during Christmas time.  You may have heard romanticizations of springtime in Paris, but I am here to adamantly advocate for already magical Paris during the magic of the holidays.

The city goes all out with lights and decorations and Christmas markets.  Having been in Paris during all months of the year, I can tell you definitively that December is best.  And Christmas markets really need to catch on everywhere else in the world.  You can just feel the excitement of the season when you’re there.

It’s at the Christmas markets in Paris where I had my first sampling of vin chaud or what the French call mulled wine.  Guys, this stuff is like Christmas in a cup in all the best ways.  It’s warm and sweet with spicy cinnamon aromas, and it’s the perfect thing to sip on as you stroll through the markets.

Vin Chaud - French Mulled Wine

I remember very clearly trying to hunt down the ingredients to make vin chaud with my friends after we went to one of the Christmas markets and trying to translate words like cinnamon sticks and cloves.  Vin chaud became a staple for us whenever we got together that winter, and making it now always takes me back to those days.

So for me, this mulled wine has a double whammy of sweet nostalgia – I get nostalgia for those carefree winter days spent with friends in Paris, and I get nostalgia for the magic of the holidays from a city I no longer call home.

Vin Chaud - French Mulled Wine

Whenever I make vin chaud now, I always feel warm and happy.  I hope it brings you the same cheer it does for me!

Vin Chaud – French Mulled Wine

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 750 ml bottle fruity red wine
  • Peel of 1 medium navel orange
  • 8-10 whole cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ⅛ cup white sugar
  • 4 splashes Grand Marnier

 

Vin Chaud - French Mulled Wine

This recipe makes enough for 4 glasses of vin chaud but it can easily be doubled or trippled depending on how many people you’re serving.  This hot mulled wine makes a great cocktail for parties.  Bonus:  it makes your house smell amazing.

Start by peeling the orange and prepping your spices for the vin chaud.  If you can’t find star anise pods, you can omit them.  I like the slight licorice flavor they impart but they can be difficult to hunt down.  A local spice shop or an Asian market likely have them.

Vin Chaud - French Mulled Wine

When you peel the orange, try to get as little of the white pith as possible (within reason) since that imparts a bitter flavor.  I poke the cloves through the orange peels so they’re easier to fish out after mulling, and it releases more of the oil from within the orange peel.  It smells heavenly.

Pour the wine into a saucepan and add the orange peel and spices.  Stir in the sugar and the honey and stir to incorporate.

Vin Chaud - French Mulled Wine

A quick note here – I am not a fan of super sweet cocktails or super sweet wine.  But when you heat the wine you get hit with a blast of bitterness that you don’t get when it’s room temperature.  Don’t believe me?  Try not adding sugar or honey to this, then heat it and sip a little spoonful.

In short, the sugar is necessary.  But you can go from just the right amount of sweetness to sickly sweet pretty quickly.  AND different red wines are going to be different levels of sweetness at baseline.  So, I’ve gone conservative here with the sugar.  Add the honey and sugar called for, and then give it a taste test after it’s heated.  You can always add more sugar, but it’s hard to take it away if you’ve gone too far.

Vin Chaud - French Mulled Wine

Heat the vin chaud over low heat very gently.  You want the wine to become hot but never boiling.  I heat it to the point where I start to see a little foam but it’s not quite simmering.  Keep it on low, careful not to overheat for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and let it cool for 5 minutes with the mulling spices still in the liquid.  Ladle into mugs and top each glass with a splash of Grand Marnier or Calvados, which is an apple brandy from Normandy and my personal favorite.

Vin Chaud - French Mulled Wine

Serve the vin chaud warm with extra honey or Grand Marnier for those that want some extra.  Don’t be surprised when this holiday treat disappears a little too quickly 🙂

   Bon appétit!

Vin Chaud - French Mulled Wine

This warm mulled wine is like Christmas in a cup!  Perfect for holiday entertaining or for cozy nights in.  

Course Cocktail
Cuisine French
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Resting Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 750 ml bottle fruity red wine
  • Peel of 1 medium navel orange
  • 8-10 whole cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • cup white sugar
  • 4 splashes Grand Marnier

Instructions

  1. Peel the navel orange and poke the loose cloves through some of the peels

  2. Add the orange peels & cloves, along with the cinnamon sticks, anise pod, and bottle of wine to a stock pot and heat over low heat

  3. Add the honey and sugar and stir to dissolve, careful not to heat the liquid to anything over a low simmer

  4. Keep on low heat while barely simmering for 5 minutes

  5. Taste for sweetness and add more honey or sugar as needed 

  6. Remove from heat and let the spices steep for another 5-10 minutes more

  7. Discard the spices and orange peels and ladle the warm wine into mugs.  Splash each glass with Grand Marnier

 



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