Taking the chill out with mulled wine

Stop me if this sounds familiar: You’ve always played around with kitchen gadgets like blenders, cuisinarts, and bread making machines, until even your friends have taken notice and began depositing juicers, old mixers, and all manner of glass jar on your porch when you’re not home.

Yes, me too. I finally put some shelving in my basement to hold all the kitchen gear I’ve bought/been given/found at yard sales… It’s just too much. The big exception for me is my crock pot, a smaller model ideal for one or two people, and which I use ambitiously, year round, for all sorts of creations.

Some are more alcoholic than others.

Here in Atlanta, we’re experiencing a few odd days of winter. This is actually really nice, because the last several winters have slapped us with lots of snow and even shut the city down for a week last January in an event we lovingly remember as “Hothlanta.”

But approaching the long weekend of the King holiday, with nighttime temperatures forecast to drop into the 20s, I decided that life would be better with some mulled wine to sip while I worked on some personal business and endeavored to engage in my medium chill.

Mulled wine is easy, fun, and can mostly be put together with spices you probably already have. There’s also no particular recipe, so pick and choose and enjoy from my list, or add to it as you’d like (and please share your concoctions in comments!).

What you need:

  • A box of red wine, the cheaper the better. I went with Corbett Canyon Pinot Noir, $12 for three litres (which amounts to four 750ml bottles of wine).
  • One orange (or a tablespoon or so of dried orange peel)
  • One lemon (or a tablespoon or so of dried lemon peel)
  • A few cinnamon sticks
  • A couple of cloves
  • Some nutmeg
  • A couple of vanilla beans, cut lengthwise to allow the aromatics to permeate
  • Allspice – which I didn’t have for some reason but would have been lovely
  • Anise – ditto

Optional, because I feel like winter drinks should be sweet instead of dry:

  • A quarter cup of sugar
  • Two or three cups of apple cider

Start early in the day, and put your cheap wine into your crock pot until the crock is 3/4 full or so. You’ll probably have plenty of wine left over, so just put the box in a cabinet for the next time the temperatures drop.

Top off with spiced cider and add the sugar if you’re going that route (I hardly ever add sugar to things, but this is purely a comfort beverage and not at all about healthy eating). Put a few slices of orange and lemon in, but keep in mind that they can add some bitterness over a long steep, so you may want to remove the fresh fruit every few hours and replace with new slices.

Add the rest of the spices and put the crock pot on low. Leave it all day, or put it on high and leave it a few hours. Once the sun sets and the chill starts to set in, you’ve got a lovely, mellowing beverage to keep you warm.

I am fully prepared for nightfall.

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2 Responses to Taking the chill out with mulled wine

  1. Jessica says:

    I love the addition of whole vanilla beans! That must add an amazing flavor! Yummmm. Where did you get the idea?

  2. Stacie says:

    I actually have a bunch of vanilla beans from trying to brew an ideal chocolate-vanilla porter last winter. After making several batches that didn’t quite work, I learned that to truly get vanilla flavor in food or drink, you have to use vanilla extract. To get a nice complement of vanilla aromatics, use beans.

    In the mulled wine, they added a velvety and inviting aroma.

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