Now that autumn has chilled the air, my thoughts turned to beverages that warm the body and soul. Besides a morning cup of coffee (or two...maybe three) and afternoon tea, I wanted a grown-up drink to sip in the evening while watching seasonal movies or reading a cozy book.
My first thought was hot apple cider with a little added brandy or cinnamon schnapps, but that didn't strike my taste fancy. Then I considered hot chocolate with the addition of a coffee or Irish liqueur, but it didn't seem cold enough for such a rich drink.
Ah, mulled wine! I've always wanted to try it, ever since watching George Bailey and Clarence, Angel Second Class, order drinks at Martini’s—or what George thought was Martini’s—in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”. When
Clarence decides it’s not nearly
cold enough for a flaming rum punch, he orders, “Mulled wine, heavy on the
cinnamon and light on the cloves. Off with you, me lad, and be lively.”
My version starts with a bottle of
Missouri’s Baltimore Bend Vineyard’s C2, but any good dry red wine will do. The addition
of apple cider and brown sugar provides sweetness, balanced by fresh orange
juice and zest. Cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and half of a nutmeg add spice,
and a final splash of brandy gives warmth beyond the stove’s heat.
Mulled wine not only warms up a late autumn evening, it will also be lovely served as an after-Thanksgiving-dinner drink. Plus, I can vision keeping a pot on the stove for a holiday party, Christmas Eve celebration, a wind-down drink on Christmas evening, or a warm beverage to see in the New Year.
Mulled Wine with Apple Cider
1 (750 ml) bottle dry read wine
4 cups apple cider
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
4 whole cloves
The juice and zest of 1 large orange
1/4 cup brandy
Cinnamon sticks and orange peels, for garnish
Combine all of the ingredients except the brandy in a large pot. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the brandy. Serve in mugs with a cinnamon stick and an orange peel.