November 30, 2012

Wine Recipe: Mulled Wine

It's rainy today in Los Angeles. For a city that doesn't get true seasons, this is what this in-between fall-winter holiday season is all about for me: it's an excuse to curl up and read a book (which, let's face it: I do anyway), with the dog and a blanket and holiday music and a hot beverage.

Sometimes that beverage is a cup of morning coffee or evening tea.  Sometimes, if I'm feeling like crap, I make a hot toddy with bourbon or brandy, a healthy squeeze of lemon and/or orange, honey and hot water.  If I skipped dessert, sometimes I will make a hot buttered rum that satisfies my sweet tooth.

But when I really want to be cozy, I make mulled wine.

I don't have a hard and fast mulled wine recipe.  It often has to do with what I have on hand. I'm inspired by all of the British, German and Scandinavian traditions that can be found with a quick search for glögg, glühwein, or mulled wine online.  (The image below is courtesy of David Loftus on Jamie Oliver's website.  His recipe for mulled wine is divine, and I've used it as an inspiration more than once.)

Here's what I do:
Start with an inexpensive wine.  I like my mulled wine to have a bit of a kick, so I use one that has a spicy kick to begin with, or I make sure to add extra spices.  Use a wine with a good fruit punch--I love Italian wines and Spanish wines for this, but would stay away from a Cabernet, for example.

Choose your spices (and if they are small, make a little sachet).  A lot of recipes call for star anise, which I don't always have on hand.  That's okay.  My favorite spices for mulled wine are lots of cinnamon, a few cloves, and ginger.  Add a little sugar--I like about 1/3 cup for every bottle of wine.  I also love vanilla, but if I don't want to use a whole pod--expensive!--I will add in a few drops at the end of the extract.  I also love adding a bay leaf, for a savory herbal flair, to the boiling pot--but it's not essential.

I sometimes will add some unfiltered apple cider or juice, and I particularly love squeezing an orange into the mix as well.  I generally add a bit of port or brandy, too, to give it some oomph...and because I love the flavor profile it creates.  But if the wine is enough booze for you, that's okay!

Heat it all in a good pot until boiling, let it cool for a few minutes, pour into a mug, and ENJOY!

Happy Friday, everyone!

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