February 3, 2013

The 162nd Thing to Do: Drink Vin Chaud in Single Digit Temperatures

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Though I may be thousands of miles away, the frigid temperatures Cornellians had to endure last week could not escape my attention through the countless Facebook statuses and lamenting Sun articles. I don’t know how many times I saw the classic status, “Really, Cornell?  Only in Ithaca would (insert complaint about weather here).”  I would like to challenge that statement, because the more time I spend in Geneva, the more I come know it as the mountainous European version of Ithaca: A clock tower ominously chimes the time in the distance, crazy bikers pedal on through snow and sleet, the sun does not shine for days during winter, the city is centered around a large lake (except Lake Geneva has swans) and the bisous noir (black kiss) can blow through the city dropping temperatures to sub zero. However, Genevans have a leg up on Cornellians in the way that they handle these bleak, cold days: They drink vin chaud.        I have discovered that vin chaud, or hot wine, is a secret weapon of Switzerland and much of Europe. I honestly don’t know how it hasn’t matriculated to the States yet with Swiss chocolate, army knives and watches. Like warmed up sangria with a hint of cinnamon and chunks of fruit, vin chaud warms the soul more than any bowl of chicken noodle soup could.  Perhaps I just have such a quixotic sentiments towards it because of my first experience with vin chaud skiing in the Alps. After a long, arduous morning full of sun and spectacular views, I stopped at a mountain top café for lunch and a glass of vin chaud looking out on incandescent snow topped, serrated peaks. Just when I thought I knew what eternal bliss was, I took a sip of my small cup of vin chaud. The warm, sweet fruity mixture allowed for total euphoria.        Though drinking vin chaud may not be quite as ideal as my mountain-top experience, I propose adding it as a 162nd thing to do on the infamous list. Yes, walking to class when it’s Ithacating (when it rains, snows and hails simultaneously) is not pleasant. No, Cornellians are not the sole population in all of the world who have to do it. But we can make like the Swiss and make it more tolerable. So, after your next cold, long day of classes or before making the uphill trek to Uris for another all-nighter, make some vin chaud. Share it with your roommates. Cuddle up and watch How I Met Your Mother. Call your parents. Think of a solution for world peace. Sip and know that the sweet taste of summer will come reality in a few short, albeit cold and snowy, months.

Vin Chaud IngredientsA cheap bottle of red wine1-2 orangesCloves4 Cinnamon Sticks4-5 tbsp sugar depending how sweet you like itSpices: 1 tsp cardamon (or 3 pods) and 1 tsp star anise (or 1 entire)

DirectionsCut the orange(s) into eighths and place four to five cloves within each section. Pour the wine in a large saucepan and put the oranges and cloves, cinnamon sticks, sugar and spices in. You can allow the mixture to sit in order to allow for more orange infusion, or begin to heat the vin chaud mixture up. Warm gradually to a simmer and do not allow it boil. Many Europeans use a French Press to remove the grittiness of the spices, but if that is not available you can strain the mixture or keep them in for texture. Don’t forget to eat the fruit at the end; it’s one of the best parts!

Disclaimer: Most of the alcohol evaporates (hence I was not skiing while intoxicated), but if you want to make it stronger use a higher alcohol content wine or add some cognac at the last step.

Other Ideas from European Pros:-Put in Cherry schnapps-Make it Swedish and add almonds and raisins (called glögg)-Make it the cheating American way and mix wine and Coke

Original Author: Casey Carr