Snow is falling, and there is nothing that says warm and cozy quite like a hot cup of mulled wine. An often forgotten tradition, I have one recipe that will warm you from the inside out when Jack Frost starts to bite. And while this is not a recipe to pair so to speak, it goes perfectly with cold nights, snowball fights, and gathering with friends.
A refined version of the traditional Mulled Wine, pre-toasting all of your spices adds a nice extra depth of flavour and allows them to open up before steeping them. I recommend using a fruity, low tannin wine like an Australian Shiraz, Ripe Californian Merlot, Russian River or Central Otago Pinot Noir, or Lodi Zinfandel.
This is a great make-ahead- recipe too if you are entertaining. Feel free to infuse the wine a day before serving it. Then remove the spice sachet before storing it. When you are ready to enjoy it, gently reheat the wine over low heat and add the brandy, Grand Marnier, and vanilla.
- 10 whole cloves
- Three 3-inch cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- 1 whole nutmeg, cracked with the side of a knife into a few pieces
- 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
- Two 750-ml bottles or one 1.5-liter bottle medium- to full-bodied fruity red wine, such as Merlot, Shiraz, or Zinfandel
- 1 clementine or tangerine, washed and cut into quarters (peel on)
- 1/3 cup brown sugar; more to taste
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 1-2 Tbs. Grand Marnier (add to taste depending on the size of your orange)
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, toast the cloves, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, coriander, and peppercorns, stirring occasionally, until aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the spices to a 6×6-inch piece of cheesecloth and set the pan aside to cool slightly. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth and tie with butcher’s twine to make a sachet.
Add the wine, sugar, and clementine to a saucepan along with the sachet. Heat the wine mixture uncovered over very low heat for 1 hour to infuse it with the spices. The mixture should steam, but take care as to never let it boil.
Using a pair of tongs, gently and carefully squeeze the juice from the clementine or tangerine into the wine mixture. Remove any seeds that may be expelled from the orange into the wine. Discard the juiced citrus pieces and the sachet. Stir the brandy, Grand Marnier (if using), and vanilla into the wine and taste. Add more sugar if needed to round out the flavors but not so much that it tastes sweet. Serve Warm in your favourite glass mug, or thick walled wine glass.