Image: Pasta Evangelista
I recently moved from my home of four years in Tuscany, Italy, where each December Christmas markets are filled with cauldrons of everyone’s favourite holiday drink: vin brûlé, or mulled wine. This spiced wine warms the heart and is meant to be shared with loved ones on frosty evenings. While this version of mulled wine has its roots in the North region of Piemonte, it is enjoyed all over Italy and is perfect for entertaining a large number of guests, as it can be left on the stove on very low heat and ladled out as needed. This festive winter drink is made with red wine, oranges, warming spices like cinnamon, clove and allspice, and if you are in extra need of warmth, a splash of brandy, spiced rum or cognac. No need to use the high-end vino, as any fruity, full-bodied red will do, and feel free to experiment with spice blends–whatever you have in your cupboard is fine. Enjoy vin brûlé with your loved ones this holiday under the twinkling lights, whether hung on the tree or scattered across the sky!
Image: Firenze Today
Vin Brûlé Recipe
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 bottle of red wine
½ to 1 cup of sugar or honey (as desired)
2 sticks of cinnamon
1 star anise
1 teaspoon of allspice berries
6 ounces of brandy, rum or cognac (optional)
Other spices such as ginger, bay leaves, vanilla, cardamom, and black peppercorn can be used
- Use a vegetable peeler to create the strips of orange zest, being careful to make them thin and avoid the bitter white pith. Set aside the orange zest and juice the orange.
- In a heavy pot, mix the sugar or honey, orange zest and juice, and spices.
- Heat the mixture over medium-high heat until the sugar or honey is dissolved and an aromatic syrup has formed, about 4 to 5 minutes. Lower the heat to low and add the wine. Bring to just a bare simmer and continue over low heat for about 15 minutes or until wine is flavorful. Be careful not to let the wine boil, which adversely affects the flavor.
- When ready to serve, ladle through a fine-mesh strainer into mugs or heat-resistant glasses to serve. You can garnish each mug with an orange slice or stick of cinnamon if desired. Add a splash of liquor (brandy, rum, or cognac) if desired. Serve steaming hot.
Written by Berea Antaki, Features Editor at Selvedge
Members of our lovely Selvedge team have taken the time to write a festive blog post each for us this year. It's thanks to all their hard work that we're able to do what we do. Cheers to them!