The Vanderlyn Panorama/ Vin Chaud for a Cold-ish Day

A slice of the Vanderlyn Panorama.

On our optional extra credit field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we always take a detour on our way to the Temple of Dendur to visit one of my favorite rooms in the museum.  It is big and round and contains the amazing Vanderlyn Panorama of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles. 

In 1814, John Vanderlyn (from upstate New York) went to France and made loads of sketches of the Palace of Versailles (the home of Louis X!V and Marie Antoinette, among others), in a suburb of Paris.  He came back home and several years later painted the palace and gardens so that they could fill the round building he erected in New York City.  He called it the Rotunda.  People would pay to  look at the painting of Versailles (and other places) because that was the closest they were ever going to get to abroad in the days before modern transportation options.

What I love about the panorama is the incredible detail.

In the days before cameras, I imagine people could spend hours studying the painting,  looking at what the people in France were wearing and what they were doing.  Even today I enjoy looking at all the groups of people in the gardens, wondering what they are up to.

I thought about the panorama when I was at the real Versailles in January.  Nothing much seems to have changed in 200 years!

It was freezing cold the day I was there, but I walked all the way down to the end of the gardens to visit some other smaller palaces.

It was a really long walk and on the way back, I was getting  hypothermia until I spied a man with a cart.  He was selling “Vin Chaud” and his hot wine was one of the best things I have ever tasted! It was slightly sweet and slightly spicy and there was an orange slice was floating around in the steaming elixir.  I perked right up.

There were a few cold days once I got back from France and I practiced making vin chaud for my friends from recipes I found on the web. I have been waiting for a cold day to post this recipe and today is about as cold as it has been lately. So here it is, give vin chaud a try, assuming you are of legal age, of course!

Vin Chaud

Pour red wine into a pot – a cupful for each drink you plan to serve. I use French red wine but not “fancy” expensive stuff.  Add the peel of an orange  and some juice from the orange.  Add brown sugar or maple syrup or honey or something else sweet to taste.  Add spices (I used a pinch of pumpkin pie spice – if you have other spices like a few cloves, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg or cardamon, chuck them in). Some recipes say to add a few shots of brandy, but this is optional.  Heat the wine until it simmers but doesn’t boil. Pour hot wine into a mug and garnish with a small slice of orange. Enjoy responsibly on a cold day.


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