Saturday, December 13, 2014

Mulled Wine

I've been making mulled wine for several years now. It gets a bad rap, but it's pretty tasty IMO (and it's always a hit when I make it for a crowd). As soon as it starts getting chilly, I buy a box of wine and make this as much as possible - such a festive, cozy drink. I normally don't drink box wine, but there's enough other stuff in this that it's not worth splurging on a fancier bottle - plus the box lasts for weeks after opening it, so you can make as much or as little as you want.

This is totally a recipe that I eyeball and tweak a little every time, so take this as a rough guideline and don't be afraid to change it based on what you like or have on hand. It also scales up or down super easily - if you want a larger batch, make it in a crock pot early in the day and let it steep on low heat for 3-5 hours.

A note about spices: I keep whole spices on hand - they stay flavorful for longer than pre-ground and keep the drink from getting grainy. You can leave out any you don't have or use ground versions if you don't mind the texture. But, if you're going to make this more than once, I recommend investing in the whole versions - they'll last for ages.

  • 1 bottle of red wine, or a quarter of a box of wine
  • 1 small orange, strips of zest peeled off, then sliced
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 6-8 cardamom pods
  • 10-12 whole allspice berries
  • 10-15 whole cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated on a microplane
  • 1/4-1/2 cup white sugar
Add the wine, orange zest and slices, and spices to a pot. Add sugar - start on the lower end, and once the wine heats and sugar dissolves, taste and add more if you want it sweeter. Cover and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until steaming but not bubbling - about 20 minutes.

To serve, place a small mesh strainer over mugs and ladle through, dumping the spices and orange back into the pot.

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