While we are blessed and happy to celebrate the Holidays here in Italy with our Candoni De Zan Family, we want to take this time to acknowledge that this Holiday season will look a little different both here and abroad. Due to current world events, traditions like decorating our homes, baking Holiday cookies and giving thoughtful gifts remain, but other Holiday celebrations will have to be postponed or reimagined.
Gathering at large parties and traveling to visit far away relatives will not be as simple as it has been in years past, with many states urging against gathering with those outside your “bubble.” This may be the first Holiday season many of us have spent with only the people in our household. But just because this year has to be different, doesn’t mean we can’t still rejoice in the spirit of the Holiday season, adapt our traditions and create new memories within our homes!
One great Italian tradition we’re going to miss this year is Holiday Markets. The markets normally appear in piazzas across the country starting in November, and vendors line the street to sell their wares, which include handicrafts and homemade treats. Visiting these markets is the highlight of the season for many people, especially if you’re like us and enjoy a traditional “panettone” cake with a hot mug of Vin Brulé.
Sadly, this year there will be no Holiday markets here in Italy, so we will have to take one of our favorite traditions, that of warming up on a cold night with a “Vin Brulé,” and make it at home with our families. Vin Brulé is what Italians call hot mulled wine, and it is a great treat to make regardless of where you are in the world.
To us, there is nothing that says Holidays like a glass of a festive, hot winter drink. It is like the Holiday spirit distilled! The origins of Vin Brulé date back to the Middle Ages, and along with being a great way to warm up, it is also said that Vin Brulé can help treat sickness like the flu or a cold.
At our house this year, we’ll certainly be brewing up our own Vin Brulé, using our favorite red Italian wine and a blend of spices. Below we have included our recipe so you can make this delicious drink at home with your family. As always, we send our love and wish you and yours truly Happy Holidays!
We suggest a full-bodied, fruity red wine for a Vin Brulé, so we have chosen our Candoni Chianti D.O.C.G. We choose our Candoni Chianti for this recipe because it is full-bodied, fruity and spicy. This wine was also recently awarded a Gold Medal from the Beverage Testing Institute. It received 90 points and was labeled “exceptional” and a “best buy.” This is just one of our many fabulous wines to have received top marks from the institute.
This recipe is pretty simple, but easily customized. Add additional spices as desired and adjust the sweetener to taste.
1/3 cup sugar or honey
4 tablespoons orange juice
2 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
1 pinch nutmeg (freshly grated)
1 750ml Bottle of Candoni Chianti D.O.C.G.
1 whole star anise
1/2 vanilla pod
1. In a non-reactive, heavy pot, mix the sugar or honey, orange juice, and spices.
2. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat until the sugar or honey is dissolved and an aromatic syrup has formed, about 4 to 5 minutes. Then lower the heat to low and add the wine. Bring to just a bare simmer and continue over low heat for about 15 minutes or until wine is flavorful. Be careful not to let the wine boil, which adversely affects the flavor.
3. Ladle through a fine-mesh strainer into mugs or heat-resistant glasses to serve. You can garnish each mug with an orange slice or stick of cinnamon if desired. Serve steaming hot.
Enjoy this Festive Holiday Cheer!
-Barbara and Caterina