Day 8: “The Classic” Mulled Wine

An oldie, but a goodie.  I think I’ve posted this recipe about every year because, well, I make it about every year.  Mulled wine is an easy crowd-pleaser.  And, it fills your house with a wonderful fragrance that will make guests tilt their heads back, sniff, and ask, “What is that amazing smell?” when they enter your house.  Which is exactly what happened here on Friday night.

I threw a little party for my direct reports on Friday evening.  Heavy appetizers, mulled wine, a gift exchange.  It was a lot of fun, and a good excuse for me to use all of the Christmas platters that are displayed atop the kitchen cabinets.  I considered mixing up some sort of exotic cocktail, but it sounded like too much work and too many ingredients.  So, mulled wine it was.

My mulled wine is little more than my sangria, twisted a bit for the winter.  The base for both beverages is the same:  red wine, orange brandy, orange and lemon juice, sugar to taste.  In the summer time I add orange slices and seasonal fruit (peaches and plums are my favorite) and serve it chilled.  In the winter, heat it with whole clove and cinnamon.  Either way, it’s easy and will put you on your ear if you’re not careful.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Mulled Wine

4 bottles red wine (I used Trader Joe’s Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 1/2-2 cups orange brandy
sugar to taste (start with 3/4 cup. Taste.  Go from there)
2 large oranges
1 large lemon
8-10 cinnamon sticks
20 or so cloves

This recipe can be increased or decreased depending upon how many you want to serve.  The above makes a large pot full. Rule of thumb is a bottle of wine to 1/2 cup orange brandy.

Pour the wine into a large pot.  Add brandy and sugar.  Juice the oranges and lemon.  Add the juice and the juiced fruit to the pot.  I usually tie the cinnamon sticks and cloves into a bit of cheesecloth so people don’t have to sift cloves through their teeth.  Drop cheesecloth spice packet into the pot.  Bring to a slow boil on medium heat, drop heat to medium low and let it go for a while.  When guests arrive, turn it to low.  I usually start the mulled wine a couple of hours before guests arrive to allow it to develop that rich, spicy taste.  At that point you can fish the spice packet out or do as I do and leave it until the pot gets low.  If you’re lucky there will be enough left over for you to heat up in the microwave the next day.

I was pretty proud of my charcuterie platter

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