The perfect brew for wassail with friends – or a cozy movie night at home.
It takes snow, cold rain and bitter wind to help you appreciate how good mulled wine is. There’s nothing like coming in from winter weather and taking a tumbler of hot, sweet, spicy wine in your hand. With the first sips, several kinds of warmth slide through you – from the heat of the liquid, the sharp flavors of citrus and ginger, and the alcohol. Chilled fingers warm up quickly, and when cramped neck and shoulder relax and you begin to smile, mulled wine has done its magic.
Choose a medium-range, dry red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or Merlot to mull. Sweet wine would make the brew cloyingly sweet, and expensive wine is best drunk as it naturally is. This recipe includes a little fresh ginger for a subtle kick, and a bay leaf to balance everything. If you don’t have fresh ginger on hand, substitute ground ginger. Don’t be surprised at the bay leaf – bay leaves contribute a complex, although light, flavor of their own to sweet dishes.
This makes enough mulled wine to serve eight people twice, but the recipe is easily doubled or halved. For wassail with friends, pour it hot into a punch bowl and let them ladle it out.
Once made, strained, and stored in a jar with a tight lid, it will keep for a week. Reheat it, gently, and enjoy. A cup (or two) is perfect for movie night at home.
If by chance you have any left over, we have ways you can use it up. Personally, I keep back about a cupful to pour over chicken before it goes into the oven to roast – fantastic flavors.
For a festive touch, slice more oranges thinly and drop a slice into each tumbler, or float the slices in the wine, if you’re serving it out of a punch bowl.
- 2 lemons
- 2 oranges
- 10 whole cloves
- 1 medium bay leaf
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 teaspoon coarsely grated fresh ginger, or 1 teaspoon dry, ground ginger
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 2 bottles dry red wine
- 1/2 cup cognac
Peel the rind off the citrus fruit. Take care to avoid the white pith, which is bitter. Juice the fruit into a large saucepan and add the rinds.
Add the cloves, bay leaf and cinnamon sticks to the pan. Grate the ginger and scrape it into the pan.
Add the sugar and water. Stir well, cover the pan, and bring the contents to a simmer. Stir a few times to dissolve the sugar. Lower the heat and remove the lid. Let the mixture simmer 20 minutes.
When about a third of the liquid has evaporated, add the wine and cognac. Raise the heat and let the mixture to come to a simmer again. Don’t let it boil, or the alcohol will evaporate. Five minutes should do it.
Strain the mulled wine through a sieve into a clean pan or punch bowl, discarding all the cooked spices and rinds.
Ladle into short glasses like whiskey tumblers and serve hot.