Vin Cuit and Christmas in Provence
It’s that time of year again. Some people think of Christmas trees, beautifully wrapped presents tucked under the tree, and stockings by the chimney. We think of wine and food: what will we prepare, and which bottle of wine will marry best with our meal on Christmas Eve? And, of course, we have visions of vin cuit dancing in our heads.
Vin cuit is a “cooked wine” that is traditionally enjoyed during the Christmas season in Provence. Made from a blend of the juices from, for example, Rolle, Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah grapes, this juice is cooked in a huge open cauldron over an oak fire until it is reduced by about half. It is then put into vats for a long fermentation and then into old oak barrels where it is aged for two years. (It is not fortified.) The result is an elegant dessert wine with a gorgeous, deep golden amber colour, intense and complex flavours from the first wave of aromas to the lingering finish, and a silky mouthfeel. Continue reading here for the original post by Provence WineZine and Mas de Cadenet, one of the producers of this elixir.
Christmas and Vin Cuit
Cold weather does “call” for warm drinks, which explains coffee, tea, vin chaud, mulled wine and hot apple cider. However, it does not explain why you might cook wine, but the tradition appears to date back to antiquity and the Egyptians. Perhaps it was for the preservation of the liquid during transport.
Today in Provence, there are only a handful of producers who carry on the tradition of making this sweet, non-fortified dessert wine. These winemakers take some of the juice from their grapes and then use heat, evaporation and patience to make vin cuit. The juice from typical regional grapes is heated in a copper cauldron over an open flame until it reduces to a syrupy stage. The liquid mustn’t boil during this process. Once the reduction stage is complete, the wine is then fermented in stainless steel for about a year before barrel-ageing for another two+ years. The final result is a sweet dessert wine at about 14% alcohol.
There are many holiday traditions in Provence, including serving the vin cuit on Christmas Eve. The wine is part of the Cacho-Fio (translation – to set alight) and served before Le Gros Souper (The Big Supper) and, later, with Les Treize Desserts de Noël (The Thirteen Desserts).
Cheers to the holidays, and to getting your hands on a bottle of vin cuit.