Vin cuit is served at Christmas with the treize desserts, at epiphany with the gâteau des Rois. In former times most families made their own vin cuit, but now it is made commercially and few bother to concoct it. Here is the recipe, however, for those who may be interested.
First of all, one must always choose the ripest black grapes (preferably muscat de malaisie) picked during the heat of the day.
Crush the grapes. The unfermented grape juice, called must (le moût), is the base of the vin cuit. Pour 10 quarts of must in a large copper cauldron. Simmer it until it has been reduced to 6 quarts. From time to time remove the scum that rises to the top. Pour the must into a large barrel or an earthenware jar. Stir vigorously with a long stick or spoon. When the liquid is cold, add 3 cups of brandy. Let it rest for 48 hours. Pass it through a sieve and pour into bottles. Seal and keep in a cool, dark place.
To this basic recipe, many additions can be made. While the must is boiling, 2 unpeeled quinces cut in half may be added. Anise seed, coriander, cinnamon, and apricot pits may also be added to the must as it cools before the brandy is added. The proportions can be what one likes best. Each housewife in Provence prided herself on her own inimitable version of vin cuit.
© 1990 Mireille Johnston estate. All rights reserved.