As you read this, I’m en route to Nérac to spend the holidays in France with Neil and my mum. One of the things I love about Christmas in Europe is the, well, Christmas-y feel of things. Even though it’s rare that you get a white Christmas in most parts of France, it just somehow feels much more like the holidays than it does at home.
Last Christmas one of my favourite memories from our time in Nérac was our local Christmas “market” (and I use the term loosely there!) where the town hall offered free vin chaud to everyone on the Sunday before Christmas. It was literally a few tables set up outside the Mairie with a mish mash of pots and saucepans filled with vin chaud made from someone’s grandma’s recipe. We sipped this out of plastic cups as we wandered around the little local square listening to Christmas music and checking out a handful of little stalls selling “Christmas wares”. It was quite delightful.
Mulled wine is something we serve at our own annual holiday party in Toronto (and now, in Nérac, where we host neighbours and friends) and generally it’s a case of Neil and I making it up as we go along 😉 This year, however, I wanted to make sure we had a record of what we did so I wrote everything down as we went. I used Jamie Oliver’s method of making a syrup with a little of the wine, the sugar and some of the fruits, juices and spices before adding the rest of the wine and other alcohols. What resulted was the best mulled wine we’ve made in over 14 years of hosting holiday parties! Not too sweet, not too alcoholic. And even the leftovers were amazing the next day gently reheated!
Mulled wine/ vin chaud
Kick your mulled wine up a notch this holiday season!
- 100g (1/2 cup) sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 8 cloves
- 2 clementines
- peel and juice of 1 lemon
- peel and juice of 2 clementines
- 1 1/2 litres (2 x 750mls) red wine
- 125mls (1/2 cup) port
- 125mls (1/2 cup) Mandarine Napoleon or Cointreau
- 125mls (1/2 cup) brandy
- Place the sugar and cinnamon stick in a large (2 litre) pot.
- Stick 4 cloves into each whole clementine and place them in the pot with the sugar.
- Add the lemon and clementine peel and juice (you should have around 190mls or ¾ cup juice in total) to the pot.
- Pour in just enough wine to cover the clementines and heat over medium heat until it boils. Simmer for around 5 minutes.
- Add the rest of the wine, the port, the Mandarine Napoleon (or Cointreau) and brandy and stir well. Heat for around 15 minutes on low-medium heat (you don’t want to boil this mix).
- Serve hot with a slice of orange or clementine and perhaps a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg.
Want to experience the magic of France at Christmas for yourself? Check out our holiday home rental website and you too could find yourself celebrating the holidays in Europe next year!