Winter Defined: Mulled Wine

One of my absolute favourite drinks of all time is mulled wine.  I first tried it a few years  back at a Christmas party. The hostess was from Germany, and mulled wine is a lot more popular in Europe. The abundance of mulled wine (or more commonly known as hot wine there) was probably one of my favourite parts about living in Europe. I definitely miss walking to the grocery store in Krakow every week and stocking up on 1.5L bottles of Grzaniec for what would be less than $10/bottle. Or people watching in the main square while sitting at one of the many outdoor restaurant patios with a warm glass. Or walking around the Christmas markets in Gdansk with a gigantic mug of it. Or exploring all of Prague with a hot wine street vendor conveniently around every corner. Or… you get the point. It was everywhere. And it was awesome.

Here’s a simple recipe I’ve been recreating back home. All this cold weather is making me want a glass (or 3) every night. B and I have even started getting boxed wine (shameful, I know) because we’ve been making so much lately. Making a big batch of our own wine is on our to-do list, and I can’t wait to spice up a few of those bottles. The spices in the recipe can be adjusted to your personal taste.

Mulled Wine

1 large orange, zested and juiced
2 cinnamon sticks
8 – 10 whole cloves
8 – 10 allspice berries
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup sugar
1 bottle red wine, 750 mL
1/4 cup brandy (optional… I didn’t add this because I don’t usually have any on hand, but it would definitely give it a nice extra kick)

Directions:

  1. Combine orange zest, orange juice, cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, ginger, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, bay leaf, and sugar into a pot. Pour in enough wine to cover the ingredients. Stir over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes to form a syrup.
  2. Pour in the remaining wine and brandy and heat over medium-low heat for about 10-12 minutes. Do not boil, as this will burn off the alcohol.*
  3. Reduce heat to low until ready to serve. A cinnamon stick makes a nice garnish. (I prefer to also use a fine strainer to strain the wine into a separate pot. I find it makes it easier to serve without all the spice bits in the way.)

*Forming the syrup first before adding the majority of the wine keeps all the alcohol from burning off. If you want to have a low to zero alcohol version, skip the syrup step and just add all the wine in at once over medium-high heat.

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