I am declaring that the winter is officially here.
It started snowing this morning, albeit for only a couple of hours. Through the double-glazed panes of the bedroom window, I could see that the snow was falling rapidly, but it looked more like wet snow which would not accumulate. True enough, most of the snow turned to water once it hit the ground. After an hour of snow, hardly any surface around our neighbourhood was covered with snow. Still, it was the first snow for this winter. Our first snow in our new house.
To commemorate this occasion, I decided to make vin chaud, mulled wine.
The main ingredient of vin chaud is, of course, red wine; we had just the ‘right wine’ at home to make it. What I meant as ‘right wine’ was actually ‘inexpensive red wine.’ Since the taste of the wine will be pretty much destroyed during the boiling process, one does not need to buy good wine. The bottle of wine for this special occasion was Beaujolais Nouveau. We had the idea of making vin chaud last weekend as the weather was getting colder, and we bought ourself a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau, but we did not have the chance to make it.
Beaujolais Nouveau is a light-bodied, young wine that is produced in the region of Beaujolais, southeast of France, and it’s generally inexpensive. It’s the first French wine to be released each year. Institut National des Appellations d’Origine, the French body that regulates the French agricultural products with Protected Designation of Origins (for example, the same body that states that only sparkling wines that are produced in the Champagne region can be named as Champagne) has designated the third Thursday of the month of November as the day when all Beaujolais Nouveau can be released onto the market. It happened that last week was the week with the third Thursday of November. When we went grocery shopping that same weekend, we were surrounded by bottles of Beaujolais; it was why we grabbed one for our vin chaud.
Vin chaud is basically a hot drink of red wine mixed with some spices and fruits. After a quick search on the Internet, I picked a vin chaud recipe from Alsace, one of my favourite regions in France. Besides the red wine, the other ingredients were brown sugar, lemon zest, orange (zest & slices), ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and star anise. The recipe did not include apples but since I still had some ripe apples from my own garden, I decided to add one to the brew (perhaps that explained why the drink was so sweet!)
It was a simple recipe and a hot glass of vin chaud was in my hands within 20 minutes. It went well with our newly bought Swedish Ginger Thins!