mulledwine1So, winter’s finally come to D.C. We had our first snowfall of the year a week or so ago–it even stuck to a few things for, well, at least a day. It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of parties to go to inside. What better time to pull out this blend of sugar, spice, and everything nice (wine) to get you and your friends in a festive frame of mind? It’s sweetly spicy and is not at all acrid like mulled wines.

This recipe is one I’ve been refining for years, and the tinkering has paid off.  Seasoning the cider separately allows one to be pretty much ready to go at a moment’s notice, to adjust the wine-cider ratio to ones liking, and to heat the wine as little as possible. All good things that I’m sure even Martha would approve of.

I’ve used fresh cider and the shelf stable kind (of a reputable, organic, no sugar-added sort…) and both work, though I actually prefer the latter as it has less sediment and the end mixture does not need to be skimmed. As for the wine itself, I’ve found that something not too rich or tannic is good. Cheap, too, is just fine. A decent box wine (if that’s not oxymoronic) will do well.

“Famous” Mulled Wine

64 oz sweet apple cider
1/2 lb brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 bay leaves
4 cinnamon sticks
1 heaping tbs cloves
1 heaping tbs allspice
1 heaping tbs cardamom pods
1 heaping tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp orange oil
3 navel oranges
3 liters medium-bodied red wine

The day before serving, combine the apple cider and the dry spices in a large non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer over very low heat several hours. Cool and return the cider to it’s bottle with the spices. Chill in the refrigerator over night. Half an hour prior to serving, strain 3/4 of the cider mixture into a large non-reactive pot. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Slice the oranges in rounds and add to the pot. Add wine and orange oil, warming over low heat. Wine should be fairly hot, but nowhere near boiling. You’re aiming for the merest whisps  of steam rising from the pot. Taste, and add more wine or strain in more cider as desired. If you’ve used fresh cider, you may need to skim some scum from the pot.