Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Nice Steaming Mug of Mulled Wine, Anyone?

Whether you wish to celebrate or kill the pain tonight, here is a recipe for a wonderful mulled wine that will leave you warm and satisfied!  I don't remember where I first saw this recipe but I have been making it for years from back when we started hosting a holiday open house and it was an instant smash hit.  Even my friends and family who don't normally drink love to come over and sit by the fireplace sipping on a fragrant mug full.  The guys who are normally more prone to beer or liquor all eventually cave and once they try this and feel its potency (and believe me it is potent) they are hooked too.  It makes the house smell wonderful and is a great accompaniment to all those sweet cookies and goodies when you are having a baking day too - a sample of this, sip of wine, little music...  Makes for a "relaxing" day of baking, hahaha!  Plus - its really easy and inexpensive too!

This recipe starts with a 750ml bottle of Merlot - if you use a jumbo bottle just add more cider to balance it to taste - you really can't go wrong here.  This will give you plenty for most parties - even for big drinkers.  I've had parties of 30+ people and everyone was drinking it and we still had enough for the hubby and I to have another mug or two after the guests left.  I've actually done a couple of batches the night before a Christmas gathering and cooled it and funneled it into some clean wine bottles to give as gifts. If its kept cold in an airtight container, it will stay good in the fridge for up to two weeks.  
The wine in the glass is before mulling.  The wine in the mug is after mulling for 2 hours.
Start with a bottle of Merlot - my favorite to do this with is actually cheapo Arbor Mist Blackberry Merlot - but you can use any Merlot you like.  Pour it in a medium to large sauce pot with a lid.  Add 4 cups of apple cider and 1 cup of sugar.  Slice 2 oranges and 1 lemon into thin slices or wedges and add to the pot.  If you don't have any oranges, you can substitute 1 cup of orange juice or 4 tablespoons of orange juice concentrate.  Add 8-10 whole cloves and 4 large whole cinnamon sticks to the pot.  Simmer on low covered for at least 1 hour.  You want to stir it a few times at the beginning to make sure the sugar doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.  I prefer to start this about 4 hours before party time.  Eventually all the fruit and spices will settle to the bottom and you won't have any issues with "floaties" in your mulled wine other than perhaps a few of the little bits of the fruit.  
I made this particular batch with a bottle of Lemon Creek Cherry wine.  If your wine is more dry or tart (like the cherry was) you can adjust your mulled wine to taste with a little more sugar and another 10 minutes simmering.  About 15 minutes before your guests are due, shut your pot off so it can cool slightly to the perfect drinking temperature.  I keep my pot on the stove and we keep turning it on and off all through the party as needed.  I've also done this on a smaller scale when I have a leftover bottle of red wine that maybe we didn't really care for and it is easy to make adjustment to your preferred taste with just these few ingredients and simmering for an additional 10 minutes after adjustments.

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