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Thursday, 1 December 2011

Vino caliente

It’s my belief that hot drinks are as important to winter survival as a toque (aka hat for our non-Canadian readers) and a daily dose of vitamin D. As children, hot chocolate was the go-to choice. As an adult, my preference has been for something a little more complex and, when appropriate, gently spiked. A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the dream-worthiness of spiced cider and rum on a snowy winter’s day. I’ve also been known to enjoy a grown up chili hot chocolate with a splash of Grand Marnier as an apres-ski treat. Most recently, my warm drink cravings were satisfied by a new discovery: vino caliente.

I owe this discovery to the Colombians, specifically Bogotanos, who probably got it from their friends in Spain (it’s basically warm sangria), though it seems this recipe can be found in some form all over Europe. Unsurprisingly there is something widely appealing about hot mulled wine. I tried a few versions while in Colombia including one with uchuva, or cape gooseberries, which have a tart flavour similar to ripe cherry tomatoes. Since these are hard to find in Canada, I used orange and lemon to impart a similar tartness. Feel free to add more honey if you prefer something sweeter. This would also be delicious with clementines or mandarin oranges.

As always, please enjoy your vino caliente and other holiday drinks responsibly. This means no drinking and driving including GT snow racers and toboggans.

Serves 4-6
2 cups water
5 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
peel and juice of one orange
peel of one lemon
3 tablespoons honey
1 bottle dry red wine
1/4 cup sugar for garnishing the glasses

Rim 4-6 wine glasses with sugar and set aside. Combine the water, spices, juice, peels and honey in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow the mixture to reduce and the flavours to develop. Reduce heat to low and add the wine. Do not boil (you'll cook off the alcohol in the wine) but gently heat the mixture for 2-3 minutes until warm. Strain into a wine glass and garnish with a slice of orange or a cinnamon stick.


  1. The idea of a warm spicy wine does sound perfectly delicious as well as comforting. Thanks for sharing this one-yum!

  2. Thanks for your comment Tina - I hope that you will be enjoying some over the weekend, as I will be ;)

  3. Brilliant! As a sangria fan, I'm thinking this warm, spicy drink would be right up my alley. Nicely done!

  4. Thanks for your comment Kim! If you love sangria, I think you'll enjoy this recipe. Let me know what you think!