We were just playing tourists, walking the streets of Paris near the Sacre Coeur, in the chill of winter.
We were hungry, we were cold, so when we saw a sign, in English, for homemade hot wine, with a huge enticingly decorated pot sitting in the front window, we just had to stop.Jump to Recipe
It was exactly what we needed.
The little restaurant Grenouille, was just delightful. The sandwiches were delicious, the service was almost unusually friendly. The microscopic bathroom was hilarious. We chatted up the waitress, and out of pure curiosity, I asked what was in the hot wine …
And she told me!
She even told me proportions!
She even went back to ask the cook to make sure she had gotten it right!
You have to understand, this is France, where customer service is often not a priority.
I was flabbergasted.
But elated just the same. Maybe she thought I was an American with a really good French accent and she wanted to be kind. I may be a French native but when I travel with my family I usually speak English with them so I may have sounded like a tourist.
We left the place warm and satisfied and much happier, now ready again to continue exploring Paris.
That was a couple years ago but Grenouille is still going strong, making cold tourists warm and delighted. This mulled wine recipe sure has made my guests happy at our Christmas Eve party each year.
So now I’m sharing it with you.
But What is Mulled Wine?
My best description is that it’s a hot sangria with Christmas spices.
You don’t need to serve it with the fruit and the cinnamon stick in the cup. That’s just for pretty pictures. You can, of course, prep some mugs ahead of time with an orange slice.
But it’s OK to just serve it naked …. No no no! Not that way! You can fill the glass or mug with just wine and leave all the colorful additions in the pot. It’s a little easier to drink that way.
Mulled Wine Ingredients Substitutions:
The French mulled wine recipe called for a dry red wine and a distinctive kind of French brandy called Armagnac produced in the Armagnac region in France.
If you have some, go for it. You can easily replace the Armagnac with your favorite brandy or cognac. I personally like Grand Marnier with it’s subtle orange flavor (and they sell it at Costco).
A cabernet sauvignon will work well with this mulled wine recipe. If you switch to a sweeter wine, like a pinot or merlot, you may want to reduce the sugar.
Over the years I’ve chosen to use merlot and have halved the sugar in the recipe with success.
I usually double the recipe and warm it in a crockpot for my parties. However, if you use a crockpot make sure not to turn it on too early.
The more the wine cooks, the more alcohol will evaporate.
The first year I made the mistake of leaving it in the crockpot for 4 hours before the party! There was no way to even get a tiny buzz from that batch, all the alcohol had burned off hours before.
You can, of course, always refill it as you go with a little more red wine or liquor every so often.
But I’ll give you the recipe as it was given to me, straight from the streets of Paris and you can decide on your own substitutions.
French Mulled Wine Recipe
French Mulled Wine - Vin Chaud
- 1 bottle dry red wine Like a Cabernet (175 ml)
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 125g
- 1/2 zest of one lemon
- 1/2 lemon rounds
- 1/2 zest of one orange
- 1/2 orange rounds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 1 whole clove
- 1 tsp fresh ginger
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1/4 cup Armagnac or other brandy
Pour all the ingredients in a pot and heat for 20 minutes on low heat, making sure the wine doesn't boil.
Serve it warm by itself or with an orange slice.
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