Vin chaud épicé

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Hot spiced wine

This festive drink is traditionally served during the holiday season in France — and right through the winter at ski resorts. It makes a fine apéritif at cocktail hour, or can be a late afternoon drink as short days fade into long nights.

Preparation is very quick. The key to success is to make sure the wine does not boil, as that would allow the alcohol to evaporate. For an extra kick, add the optional cognac or brandy.

Hot spiced wine is best prepared shortly before you plan to serve it. Decorate your glasses with a slice of orange peel or a cinnamon stick. Much merriment is bound to ensue.

1 bottle dry red wine (e.g. Bordeaux, Gamay, Côtes du Rhône, Merlot)
2 cinnamon sticks or 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 cloves
1 star anise
10 peppercorns
1/2 cup (100 g.) sugar
1 orange, preferably organic
2 tbsp. cognac or brandy (optional)

hot wine1Pour the wine into a saucepan. Add the cinnamon, cloves, star anise, peppercorns and sugar.

Using a very sharp paring knife, cut two strips of peel from the orange. Add to the saucepan.

Heat the wine until it looks like it is just about to simmer. Turn the heat down to low and continue to cook for 10 minutes.

Strain the hot wine through a sieve into a clean recipient. Return it to the saucepan. If you are using the cognac or brandy, add it now.

When ready to serve, reheat the wine very gently. Serves 6.

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