Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hot Mulled Wine

I love sipping a mug of hot mulled wine on a cold winter night, especially if I'm just coming in from the cold. Sure, you can buy mulling spice blends at any grocery store, but it's quite easy to make your own blend, and you can make sure you're using the freshest (and therefore best-tasting) spices when you make your own blend. Don't use a fine wine for mulling, but do choose an inexpensive wine that you enjoy drinking. I usually choose a medium-bodied red such as a merlot, a merlot/shiraz blend, or maybe claret or zinfandel (not white zinfandel). I've also found that Carolina muscadine or scuppernong wines can be good for mulling, and because they're sweet I omit the sugar from the mulling recipe.

1 bottle of red wine
10 whole cloves
5 cinnamon sticks
6 whole allspice
1/2 tsp chopped dried orange peel
1 star anise (optional)
1/2 cup sugar (omit if using a sweeter red wine like muscadine)
1 small orange, thinly sliced

Pour the wine in a large pot - I prefer to use a glass Pyrex brand or other stovetop-safe glass pot. Stir in the sugar. Place the spices and orange peel in the center of an 8" square of cheesecloth. Gather the corners of the cloth together and tie with a string to make a pouch. Add the spice pouch to the pot of wine. Heat the wine to just below a boil, stirring occasionally. Carefully float most of the orange slices (reserve a few) on top and simmer the wine for 20 minutes, gently stirring occasionally (it's ok if the orange slices get stirred into the wine). For best results, don't let the wine come to a boil. Remove from heat, remove the spice bag and ladle the hot mulled wine into mugs. Garnish each mug with a fresh orange slice if desired.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

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