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Orange-Scented Mulled Wine

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Serves eight.

Yields about 6 cups.

  • To learn more, read:
    Holiday in a Glass
  • by Allison Ehri Kreitler from Fine Cooking
    Issue 96

This traditional cold-weather drink is just what its name implies (to mull means to warm and spice): wine, usually red, infused with sugar, citrus, and spices, served warm. A seasonal clementine adds a sweet fruit note.

Discover other cozy beverages with the help of our Drinks and Entertaining Guide.

  • 10 cloves
  • Three 3-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 whole nutmeg, cracked with the side of a chef's knife into a few pieces
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • Two 750-ml bottles or one 1.5-liter bottle medium- to full-bodied fruity red wine, such as Merlot, Shiraz, or Zinfandel
  • 1 clementine or tangerine, washed and cut in half crosswise (seeded if necessary)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar; more to taste
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 Tbs. Grand Marnier (optional
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Toast the cloves, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, coriander, and peppercorns in a medium (4-quart) saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the spices to a 6x6-inch piece of cheesecloth and set the pan aside to cool slightly. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth and tie with butcher’s twine to make a sachet.

Put the wine, clementine, and sugar in the slightly cooled pan along with the sachet. Heat the wine mixture uncovered over low heat for 1 hour to infuse it with the spices. Do not let the mixture boil.

Using a pair of tongs, gently and carefully squeeze the juice from the clementine or tangerine into the wine mixture. Discard the juiced citrus halves and the sachet. Stir the brandy, Grand Marnier (if using), and vanilla into the wine and taste. Add more sugar if needed—use just enough to smooth out the flavors but not so much that it actually tastes sweet. Serve hot.

Make Ahead Tips

If you want to infuse the wine a day before serving it, go right ahead. Just make sure to remove the spice sachet before storing it for the night. Gently reheat the wine in a medium pot over low heat and then add the brandy, Grand Marnier, and vanilla.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 220; Fat (g): 0; Fat Calories (kcal): 0; Saturated Fat (g): 0; Protein (g): 0; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 0; Carbohydrates (g): 15; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0; Sodium (mg): 10; Cholesterol (mg): 0; Fiber (g): 0;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This is a very easy, yet refined, version of mulled wine. Toasting the spices is a nice touch to add flavor and aroma, and the citrus adds another dimension that was appreciated by guests. But the best was the addition of brandy and grand marnier.

I need to comment on this recipe, because I find it overcomplicated, which is the opposite what mulled wine should be. Mulled wine is served on the ski slopes of Austria and on the average man's table as an after dinner drink in Europe, or a hot drink on a Sunday afternoon when the snow is falling. Seasonings: Cinnamon, lemmon peal and a little of its juice(or orange), whole cloves, sugar Cook the seasoning in a cup or two of water until your entire house smells like Christmas, then add the red wine. Warm it up with the wine, but do not boil it, because you will lose the alcohol (hence the reason why you cook the spices in the water and not in wine). Done! This is how simple it should be. If you don't have whole cinnamon, use a dash of the ground one. Improvise with your citrus, adjust the sweetness to your taste. There is no right or wrong way to make this simple and delicious drink. And relax, you don't need all the fancy extras.

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