The vin chaud – literally translated means hot wine, cannot claim Savoie roots as every region and European country has its own version, however, this is a very popular drink in the alps in winter, it is a great warming pick-me-up after a mornings skiing! It is a hot, sweetened red wine made with the addition of aromatic spices and citrus fruits. Each country has its own version with a slight variation of ingredients. Known as mulled wine in the UK, Glühwein in Germany and Austria and in the Nordic Countries GlÖgg. Bulgaria’s version is called Greyano vino, The Netherlands call theirs Bisschopswijn and the Italians call it vin brulé. For a more detailed description of all the different countries versions of this drink check out this informative article on wikipedia
The origins of the hot red wine drink can be traced back as far as the Ancient Greeks and was known as Hippocras. This drink is said to have been invented by the Greek Father of medicine Hippocrates. The original Hippocras was either red or white wine that was spiced and sweetened with honey, it was known as a tonic. This was a very popular drink in Britain and there is a recipe for Hypocrace in The Good Housewife’s Jewel by Thomas Dawson (1596), one of the earliest cook books printed for the Elizabethan working classes – this cook book is still in print today.
There are numerous versions of a modern day recipe and it is very difficult to state quantities as it is very much personal taste. You can also buy sachets and ‘teabags’ with all the flavourings inside that just need to be steeped in steaming hot red wine. Here is my recipe:
I bottle of red wine – I use a local Savoie wine (Gamay or Mondeuse) but for a stronger wine taste try a Bordeaux
100g sugar – test for sweetness before adding all the sugar
zest of a lemon
zest of an orange
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
1cm of fresh ginger, grated
A pinch fresh nutmeg, grated
Place all of the ingredients into a saucepan and slowly bring to a gentle rolling simmer, leave to infuse for at least 5 minutes, can leave simmering gently on the stove all day – if it lasts that long! Serve very hot, strained through a sieve with a slice of orange and lemon.
If I am serving this as an apero before dinner, I sometimes add a little splash of Grand Marnier.
I have tried this recipe with white wine and cider adding honey to sweeten and elderflower to dilute which gives a great lighter alternative.
all photos are copyright ©Caro Blackwell