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The weather outside is frightful indeed. While I’ve gotten used to the cold, as someone raised in the tropics, I admit it can be challenging at times to stay cozy in Paris during the winter.
Thankfully, my 8-year love affair with the City of Light has taught me a thing or two about combating the winter blues. Behold what replenishes my body and soul: mulled wine (vin chaud) and raclette. Perfect for the holidays, après-ski, gatherings with friends, or just a cozy night in. I owe my winter survival to these alpine staples. Here is how I have successfully changed the narrative, from the cold winter’s gloom to a bright, festive celebration, by serving a French winter feast of vin chaud and raclette at home.
Mulled Wine (Vin Chaud)
- 1 bottle of red wine (750 ml)
- 1 orange or 1 lemon (or both)
- 1 tsp of ginger powder
- 1 tsp of ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp of vanilla sugar
- ¼ cup of brown sugar (to taste)
- (optional: 1 tsp of ground nutmeg and ¼ tsp of ground cloves)
Pay attention to the type of wine you choose as this will dictate the success of your vin chaud. It is not necessary to use your most expensive bottle of red wine. Try to avoid tannic wines like Mourvèdre or Malbec. Use any young red wine that is round and fruity, whose sweetness will compliment but not overpower the other ingredients. My favorite wine to use is a young Beaujolais Nouveau because it is affordable and adapts perfectly to the zesty flavors of the other ingredients .
1. Wash and then cut the orange/lemon into two. Squeeze the first half with a citrus reamer and cut the other half into wedges (to be used for garnishing later). Add the pulp from the reamer if you like!
2. Pour the wine into a pot and set it on low heat. Important: don’t boil the wine! Boiling will evaporate its alcohol content.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir occasionally until it simmers.
4. Serve the wine in mugs while hot. Garnish with slices of orange/lemon and a stick of cinnamon.
If you don’t fancy this drink initially, try adding other flavors that better suit your taste. I hated vin chaud during my first couple of years in Paris. But after a handful of walks in the city with good friends, hot wine and fun conversations, I’ve found exactly how I like it.
- Raclette cheese and/or any of the following: Gruyère, Jarlsberg, Camembert, Brie, sharp Cheddar, Emmental, Gorgonzola, Gouda, Mozzarella, Morbier, Fontina, Appenzeller
- Cornichon or any tiny pickles/gherkins
- Ham – deli slices or cured
- Olive oil for greasing the grill for the potatoes
- (Optional: baguette and butter)
I have two indispensable requirements for an awesome raclette party: one is a raclette grill and the second is good company. Raclette is made to be shared! If you don’t have a raclette grill yet, this electric indoor raclette table grill for 8 is perfect to melt the cheese and grill the potatoes. Otherwise, you can place the cheese in an oven at 200°C/395°F grill position for 5 minutes in a gratin dish.
1. Wash the potatoes thoroughly. You can peel the skin off if you wish. Slice them in half. Place the potatoes in a large pot of cold water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, and cook until tender. Pierce the potato with a knife or fork to check if done. When ready, the utensil should go in and come out easily.
2. Start the raclette grill. When sufficiently hot, place the slices of cheese in the tray until melted and potatoes on the grill. You can also melt the raclette in the oven. Once melted, scrape over the potatoes and/or onto your plate. Enjoy with ham, cornichons, a green salad, bread, and butter.
Pro-tip: A raclette party is meant to be savored and not rushed. This meal is best paired with a dry white wine from Savoie such as Pinot Gris or Cabernet Sauvignon.
From all of us at HiP Paris, we wish you the happiest holidays wherever you are!
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Written by Maikka Piquemal for HIP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Plum Guide and our Marketplace for fabulous vacation rentals in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long or short term, or buy in France? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates or click here. Looking to bring France home to you or to learn online or in person? Check out our marketplace shop and experiences.