Holiday Vin Brule Recipe
Here in Italy, the temperature is plummeting just before the holidays. We’ve had our first snow in Milan, and even with the heater cranked, the apartment can get a bit nippy. During the day, we like to keep warm with lots of spiced teas.
But during the evenings, one of the nicer holiday recipes to keep warm with is vin brulé. Pronounced “veen broo-lay,” the name is French and means burned wine.
Although it is normally considered a sweet drink, your own version of vin brulé may end up being dry or tart, depending on may different factors. (Not the least of which is the type of wine you select)
The best part about vin brulé is that it doesn’t require an expensive wine to taste good. Your other ingredients will “doctor up” a cheap red wine, so the type and the quality of your wine will be left up to you. In fact, while I’ve offered some base measurements here, you should consider these as guidelines rather than a structured recipe.
For this recipe you will need:
- 1 bottle of red wine
- 1 large orange, or 2 small oranges, or 4 tangerines
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teasppon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon juniper berries
Start by pouring as much wine into a large saucepan as you want to make servings for. Obviously, if you only want to make two glasses, you’ll need to reduce all of your other ingredients.
Set the saucepan on a low flame. Peel your choice of citrus fruit and put the peelings into the wine. Slice fruit and put into wine, which should start simmering. Add in spices, stir, and then raise heat to bring the wine to a full boil.
Once the white zest of the fruit peel takes on a similar color to the wine, lower the heat and remove the peel. Spoon in honey and stir to ensure that the honey melts. Add honey and sample until wine reaches the desired level off sweetness. Ladle wine hot into tumblers and garnish with orange or tangerine slices.
If you are making a lot of wine, then it is usually okay to leave the pan on a low flame to keep the wine hot. Remember, part of the point of this recipe is to really burn the wine, so you can’t ruin this recipe by leaving the wine on for too long.
As I mentioned before, this is a general recipe that requires experimenting to get “just so” for each person’s individual preference. Obviously a vin brulé made with tangerines will be sweeter than a recipe made with oranges.
Even if you are using the same brand of wine for every attempt, it’s often hard to point to a “definitive recipe” if you keep experimenting. For myself, I like to make a sweet drink with extra honey, but I use oranges for a tart aftertaste.
If you end up with a recipe that you don’t care for, fixes are usually easy. If the taste is too spicy or too sweet, add more wine. If the taste is too dry or too tart, add more honey and cloves. And if it tastes too bland, toss in more nutmeg and cinnamon. Or, you can get really inventive and try adding some ginger.
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Remember, one of the best parts of this drink is in experimenting to see what you can come up with. So, even if you like the base recipe, don’t hesitate to play around on your second attempt.