I’ve teamed up with Titan Travel this year to offer you a delicious vin chaud recipe (that’s mulled wine in French!). Check their 12 Days of Blogmas to find other recipes, crafts, and ideas inspired by Christmas markets from around Europe.
Lille’s Christmas market might not be the biggest, but it has the best hot mulled wine in the world. Ha, I bet I got your attention there.
A couple of years ago, my husband and I went on a week-long Christmas market tour of Europe. And this brought us to France, Belgium, and Germany.
Each market was charming in its own way and brought in something new. But mulled wine was everywhere. And of course, since, baby, it was cold outside, warming up with hot wine was the logical thing to do. So we made it our mission to sip our gluhwein from adorable mugs at each Christmas market we stopped by. However, it all tasted pretty much the same. Amazing, but there was no variation.
Until we arrived in Lille that is.
It’s no secret that French know a thing or two about wine. So when we spotted a slice of orange and a star anise floating in our vin chaud, we fell in love.
By adding orange and lemon slices (apart from the traditional spices), the French created a lovely, fragrant delicacy so easy to prepare even at home (scroll down for the recipe).
But let me tell you a bit more about Lille.
While Lille’s Christmas market is nowhere near the size of the mammoth ones in Germany, it’s a foodies heaven in its own right. Nowhere else were we so busy stuffing our face with mouth-watering pastries and savory dishes as here.
From pain d’epices (the French version of gingerbread) to scrumptious thin waffles filled with orange blossom flavor, we constantly found something new and exciting to nibble on.
The crisp air wafted the smells of sausages and hot raclette scraped on top of potatoes as we browsed the market in search of tiny, yet so intricate and colorful nativity figurines.
But seriously, Lille is THE place to free your inner shopaholic. The stores compete for the most original window decor, and we ended up doing most of our Christmas shopping here.
And right in the center of the town and next to the Christmas market, the big wheel was the perfect spot from where to admire Lille’s twinkling lights. This was especially enjoyable after dark when the city glowed with joie de vivre.
Lille boasts an incredible Christmas atmosphere and we brought home so many beautiful souvenirs and unforgettable memories.
However, the gift that keeps on giving is this vin chaud recipe. I now prepare it every winter around Christmas time and it’s always such a crowd pleaser. I lovingly encourage you to give it a try. I can guarantee you and your guests won’t be disappointed.
How to make vin chaud at home:
The cool thing about this recipe is that you don’t need a fancy wine. You can use an inexpensive wine or your favorite red. Either will do.
- 1 bottle of red wine
- sugar to taste (I use 1/4 cup sugar)
- 1 orange, sliced
- 1/4 lemon, sliced
- 10 whole cloves
- 1 whole star anise
- 2 cinnamon sticks
Vin chaud is super easy to prepare and it will make your house smell fabulous.
- Pour wine into a large saucepan
- Stir in the sugar
- Add the orange and lemon slices
- Place cloves, star anise, and cinnamon sticks into the mixture
- Slowly bring the mixture just below a simmer and keep it there for a few minutes. Never bring it to a boil or this will destroy the flavor.
You can strain the spices if you want, but the more you keep them in, the more fragrant your vin chaud will be. That’s why the mulled wine at Christmas markets tastes so divine because the spices are kept in for hours.
To serve, ladle the wine into mugs and garnish with an orange slice, star anise, and a cinnamon stick.