Vin Chaud Recipe for the Parisian Cold


Vin-chaud - Mulled Wine

Christmas Market in Strasbourg – Photo by Reuters

My boss recently came back from a trip to Paris during early March, so it wasn’t surprising that when I asked what was one of her favorite parts of the trip, she said “vin chaud.” April in Paris may have been hot when Sarah Vaughn sang it, but that’s probably because the March before it can be downright cold.

Sure, mulled wine is available in all parts of the world – the Norwegians put Akavit in theirs – but dropping a few Euros at a stand on Blvd Saint Germain is special. Combining a long walk down the Seine in the chilly breeze amongst the 19th century Haussmannian buildings with your hands wrapped around a warm cup of hot, spiced wine seems like the proper thing to do. 

It’s also the proper thing to do when you’re watching TV in Chicago on a Thursday night, out of whiskey and heading toward the end of a bad cold.

So that’s what I did last week. Sounds good right? Here are a couple of vin chaud recipes for you to try, whether you’re seeing the City of Lights or sneezing in the Windy City:


My Windy City Vin Chaud Recipe:

  • 1 very cheap bottle of Merlot
  • 1/2 tbsp of anise seed
  • 1/8 tsp powdered ginger
  • 3 whole cloves
  • pinch of black pepper (unless the wine is peppery as well)
  • 1/4 cup honey or 4 tbsp of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup of orange juice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Pour wine in sauce pan, add spices, simmer (not boil!) for 15 minutes. Strain. Drink whilst chaud.


My Parisian Vin Chaud Recipe:

  • 1 very cheap bottle of Merlot
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 3 whole cloves
  • generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Slices of one orange

Pour in sauce pan, add spices, simmer (not boil) for 15 minutes. Take off flame, strain then add:

Drink whilst chaud.

No matter who tells you otherwise, choose the cheapest wine because a proper Parisienne wouldn’t let a good bottle get boiled down and spiced into an unrecognizable stew. If you really want to be like the locals, you’re usually drinking 4€ wines anyway.


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Having traveled extensively in the past with an artist and educator schedule, I now spend my non-working hours calming a tired infant, searching for the best sazerac and getting the most out of our urban garden. As we inevitably write more about traveling with children, we'd love to read your comments about how you create the perfect comfort/adventure balancing act. Thanks for reading!

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