It’s hard to believe that the holidays are already upon us. There’s a chill in the air, Christmas decorations are up, the holiday classics are on TV and the radio, and the craziness of holiday shopping has taken over the malls.
I have always loved the holidays. I might be a summer baby at heart as far as the weather, but when it comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m like a little kid in a candy store. I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving for years, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In my opinion, there is nothing more comforting than being surrounded by those you love, making new memories while reminiscing about the old ones, eating comfort foods and, of course, having a drink or two. One of my favorite things to make for the holidays is a hot, spiced wine, which is also known as mulled wine. It has the taste, warmth, and smell of the holidays. It’s so…comforting. This is the perfect holiday treat for adults. You can do something for the kids, too. I’ll get to that in a moment. Here is a great recipe to make your own Hot Mulled Wine.
One bottle (750 ml) of red wine (suggestions: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Zinfandel)
One orange, sliced and peeled
¼ cup brandy
8 to 10 cloves
1/4 cup of honey or sugar**
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground allspice
Combine all ingredients in a pot and place over low heat. Gently warm the ingredients on low to medium heat (avoid boiling), for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure the honey (or sugar) dissolves completely. When the wine is steaming and the ingredients have been well blended, it is ready to serve. Strain the wine and pour it into a crock pot. Put the crock pot on the lowest setting. This will keep it warm for you and your guests to enjoy. It’s perfect on a cold night! Serve the mulled wine warm and place a cinnamon stick and/or an orange slice on the mug as a garnish.
**You may need to adjust the honey or sugar to your liking, or if you are using a sweet red wine to make the mulled wine, you should leave out the sugar/honey.
For the kids at your holiday gatherings, you can make them mulled cider. Omit the wine, brandy and sugar/honey from the recipe above and replace it with apple cider. Voilà! You have a kid-friendly drink to serve as well.
My family lives in Germany and, aside from seeing them and the beautiful scenery over there, one of my favorite things in Germany is Glühwein. This is a staple in Germany during Fall and Winter – even into the Spring if it’s cold enough – and is especially popular at their ever-famous Christmas markets, known as the Weihnachtsmärkte or Christkindlmarkt. The recipe above is very similar to the German Glühwein. I do have to caveat that by saying that there’s nothing as good as the real thing. If you ever have an opportunity to go to Germany during the holiday season, you MUST try the Glühwein!
If you’re short on time, some wineries offer their own versions of mulled wine. As a matter of fact, Paradocx has a Spiced Red Wine. They describe it as a “spiced red wine [that] is flavored with cinnamon sticks, whole clove and cardamom pods”. All you have to do is heat it.
If mulled wine isn’t really your thing, what about a spiced apple wine instead? Auburn Road’s Mad Anthony’s Chase is like apple pie in a glass. You can serve it as is, chilled, or heated with a cinnamon stick. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love apple pie?! By the way, I make a mean apple pie, but I’m kicking it up a notch for Thanksgiving. I’m adding Mad Anthony’s to it. More on this to come in a later blog post…
You can really have a lot of fun with this. Enjoy the holiday season surrounded by those you love…and have spiced wine, lots and lots of spiced wine.