Back in the early 80s, when I was barely legal and going to Foothill community college, I worked at Ridge Winery in the tasting room up on Montebello Road.
For those of you who remember, you are probably laughing because there was no “tasting room” at Ridge –there was only a tasting table outside, a simple picnic table where we had five wines, usually four zins and a claret, lined up along with a basket of fresh bread (from “City of Paris” as I recall); you went inside the cellar where Kathy poured other offerings and helped you make your purchases.
We were having a Christmas party or some sort of potluck as I recall and it was quite cold. I was a newlywed with a Crockpot and as I was going to be at the tasting room all day, I suggested I make mulled wine. After all, there was always plenty of leftover wine lying around that I never got around to drinking during the week so why not pour all those together and mull them?
Yep, sometimes a wine is best for mulling…maybe a bottle of Merlot left after a party you don’t want to drink or store, or some 2 Buck Chuck lying around. Or maybe you tried something and you flat-out don’t like it enough to add those calories!
This is a wonderful time of year to enjoy mulled wines at home, with friends, or to bring to a gathering. No matter what you mull, the smell is divine!
There are lots of mulled wine recipes out there with variations on the theme of a spiced, heated, red wine. I am not of the camp that recommends you use a fine red wine for mulling; something in the $5 range works great as does 2 Buck Chuck if you have a Trader Joe’s in the neighborhood. I am tempted to try a Shiraz this year, but any red wine will work.
I always have a pot of homemade chai spices going on the store to make chai and the easiest mulled wine or mulled cider to make for me is to add red wine to the eight spice combination: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, coriander, ginger, pepper, allspice and cloves with a little honey or sugar to taste. (I’ll share my chai recipe soon, I promise!)
A few weeks ago I saw this mulled wine recipe on Delectable Jen’s blog which she found from an episode where chef Andreas Viestad makes Mulled Wine in Trondheim, Norway. I prefer mine without raisins, almonds, and orange and the added vodka, but this is the traditional Norwegian recipe in its entirety.
1 cup (2 1/2 dl) water
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamom seeds
1 heaped tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons homemade vanilla sugar, or 2 tablespoons vanilla and 1/4 vanilla bean
1 bottle of red wine
1/2 cup (1 dl) vodka (OPTIONAL!)
1/2 cup (1 dl) almonds
1/4 cup (1/2 dl) raisins
1 orange, sliced
In a small pot, bring the water to boil. Add cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, honey and vanilla sugar to and mix it well. Let this sweet spice mixture boil for about 15 minutes to release the flavor of the spices.
Meanwhile, heat the red wine gently in a medium pot. Make sure it does not reach more than 170F (78C), otherwise the alcohol will evaporate. Add 1/3 of the sweet spice mixture. Add almonds and raisins. Add more spice mixture to taste, until the mulled wine has the sweetness of your liking. Add the vodka.
Add a slice of orange to each cup add mulled wine and serve.
Update from 2013: I wouldn’t use 2 Buck Chuck. I’d try to find something in the $5 range at least. Doesn’t have to be in the $10-20 unless you really didn’t like it and don’t want to blend it with something else…