Base Mulled Wine Recipe

  • 1 bottle red wine -- Any kind of wine will do. Heartier, fruitier wines like zinfandels, cabernets or merlots tend to work best. But the only real rule is the same as the rule for choosing wines to cook with – never use anything you wouldn’t drink otherwise.
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sweetener -- Sugar is the sweetener most commonly found in mulled wine recipes, but you can use any sweetener you like, including honey, maple syrup or maple sugar. Some recipes omit the water and substitute ½ cup of sweet fruit juice, such as pineapple, or an herbal or citrus tea to add sweetness, but this didn’t work well in our taste tests.
  • 1-2 oranges and/or lemons, zest and fruit (optional) -- When using fruit zest avoid the bitter white pith.
  • 1-2 tbsp mulling spices -- Mulling spices almost always include cinnamon and cloves. Others that are common include allspice, nutmeg, mace, cardamom and star anise. Quantities can vary dramatically but if you keep total spices to 1-2 tablespoons it’s difficult to over or under-spice your wine. The important thing is that the spices need to be whole. Ground spices will cause your wine to have an unpleasant taste and texture.

Place water, sweetener, spices and fruit zest in a pot (do not use aluminum or copper in any of these recipes) and simmer gently for about 5 minutes to blend flavors. Reduce heat to lowest possible and add wine. Heat for about 30 minutes without boiling. This is the most important part of the process. If the wine boils it will kill the flavors and the alcohol will burn off. Watch it closely and remove from heat occasionally if necessary. Strain out the spices and then add the fruit at the end. Serve in mugs or glasses with some fruit floating on top and a garnish of cinnamon stick.

  • Yields: 4 to 8 servings depending on your pour
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