In the summertime my husband and I spend our evenings outside, coming up with new creations on our grill or smoker. In the winter, I stay indoors where it is my time to get creative inside the kitchen, because it’s either cold or rainy, and I look for hobbies to keep me busy in order to keep my mind off the gloomy weather. Right now, however, is one of my favorite times of the year (yes, the Holiday Season), and that means holiday get-togethers.
Now, contrary to popular belief, I don’t always drink bubbles and Champagne cocktails at holiday events (like this post), and I do know quite a few people who just don’t love bubbles as much as I do (shocker!). So for those occasions I make another fun winter wine drink, Mulled Wine. If you haven’t tried this, you’ll be amazed at how comforting this drink is. Even non-wine lovers will devour this recipe, so you may want to make a double batch.The great thing about this recipe is that you probably already have all of the ingredients right inside your pantry, so it is an easy one to whip up on a week night with short notice, but can be elegant enough for a cocktail party.
- 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 cup sugar (1/4 cup more or less depending on how sweet you want it)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 (750-ml) bottle, or the equivalent, dry red wine (Zinfandel, Syrah)
- 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise (optional)
- Zest of one orange
Gather your spices
Wrap cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, and cloves in cheesecloth and secure them with string. If you don't have cheesecloth and string, then use a tea ball. Just cut the cinnamon stick into smaller pieces and fit all of the spices into a tea ball and secure it shut.
In a medium to large sauce pan bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then add spice bag, wine, vanilla bean, and orange zest.
Simmer, uncovered, on low heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 20 more minutes. Remove spice bag and fruit. Stir well. Serve warm in a glass or mug. Garnish with sliced oranges and a cinnamon stick and enjoy.
- If you ever should be in the situation where you have a lot of left over wine (I know, I know, it's rare, but I hear it does happen). Perhaps you had a party the night before and opened up too many bottles for guests to consume. The best part is that you can mix wines, you don’t have to use all of the same wine in this recipe.
- If you are gifted a bottle you don’t really wish to drink by itself. Use it to make Mulled Wine!
- If you have had a bottle open for a couple days and it has lost its charm.
- If you open a bottle that you bought but don’t love (make sure, however, it isn’t flawed; i.e. smells musty, moldy, or like vinegar) … You can’t mask a flawed wine no matter what, your Mulled Wine will just concentrate those undesirable flavors.
- The rule with cooking with wine is the same as Mulled Wine, make sure it is one you’d want to drink (or is at least "drinkable"), you will change the flavors of the wine a lot by adding the sugar and spices, but you still want to start with a drinkable bottle.
- Or, if you just feel in the mood for a nice warm glass of comfort!
Try this recipe this winter, and adjust the spices and sugar to your liking.