When the temperatures start dropping and there is a chill in the air, it becomes an appropriate time to sip a nice, warming cocktail, or this case, mulled wine. Mulled wine has been around for centuries in many Old World countries, but hasn't been too prominent in the New World yet. If you ask the average person or even bartender, they won't have a clue as to what it is. It is a traditional holiday beverage that has been warming people for a very long time. Think of mulled wine as the wine drinker's version of the classic hot toddy. These wines are sweetened, spiced up, and slightly heated to provide an alternative to drinking traditional coffees, teas, ciders, and toddy's at holiday gatherings, special wintry occassions, or on a cold, winter's night cozieing up in front of the fireplace. It also make a great toast for what ails you. As with anything, there are some variations as to the ingredients and proportions, but overall it is pretty standard across the board. It will only take about 30 minutes in total for preparation and cooking.
- One 750 ml bottle of red wine (preferably Merlot or Cabernet)
- One peeled and sliced orange (keep peel aside to add zest to the pot)
- 1/4 cup of brandy
- 8-10 cloves
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup of honey or sugar (I prefer honey)
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp of fresh or 2 tsp of ground ginger (allspice can be substituted)
- garnish orange slice or two cinnamon sticks (optional)
Combine all ingredients in either a large pot or a slow cooker. Gently warm the ingredients on low to medium heat for 20-25 minutes (don't cook to a boil). Stir occassionally to make sure the honey or sugar has completely dissolved. When the wine is steamy and the ingredients have been well mixed, it is ready to be served. Ladle the mulled wine into mugs or preferably clear Irish coffee mugs with a handle. Don't use the ingredients left in the pot. If you prefer a less sweeter mulled wine, you can use less sugar or honey. This amount will serve 4-6 people depending on the size of the glassware. Any unused mulled wine can be stored in the fridge for a while, although you will have to re-heat it in a pot, which will reduce the spiciness a bit.