Guess what time it is?
For this month's Tipsy Tuesday, we're going with a winter must-have. Aaron and I have both had a fond place for mulled wine ever since we went to the Chicago Christkindlmarket when we were first dating. I'd been multiple times before that in the years I've lived here, but this is the occasion I remember with the most fondness. It was freezing that night - a classic Chicago 4 degrees, not counting wind chill - and the gluhwein in small, ceramic boots was exactly what we needed for survival. "I would like a St. Bernard with a barrel full of this," I remember him saying. Yes please.
We looked at all kinds of recipes that next month, attempting to find one that matched what we had at the market, but finally ended up just modifying our own version to hit the right taste. Halving the sugar and doubling the brandy seemed to just about do the trick. I also added in a bit of black pepper, which I definitely recommend. It will still taste like festive cheer even without, but I find that it adds a really nice extra layer. The anise, though, is the real star of the show (honestly, no pun intended). I love just about anything anise-flavored, so having these as the base of the mulling spices is very much my happy place.
I love mulled wine for many reasons, but high among them is that it's a perfect holiday party drink. It's easy to make in large batches and you can keep it warm and ready in a crock pot or insulated carafe, standing by like a the best party wingman. No fancy prep needed for each drink - just a ladle! And since you're mulling it, there's no need to buy an expensive bottle of wine. I snagged $6.00 Malbec from Trader Joe's and it was perfect. I definitely recommend opting for a "big red" since it needs a bit of its own oomph (technical term) to hold up to all the spices and zest.
So without further ado, let's raise a glass to the holidays!
mulled wine (gluhwein)
yield: 4-6 drinks, depending on serving size
1 orange (extra for garnish)
1 TB whole cloves
1 tsp cardamom pods (or ground cardamom)
1 tsp ground ginger
3 star anise pods
1 tsp ground black pepper (optional)
⅓ cup sugar
½ cup water
2 cinnamon sticks (extra for garnish)
1 bottle of dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, or Beaujolais
½ cup brandy
Tea filter bags or equivalent (example)
Peel the lemon and orange with a potato peeler or sharp paring knife, being careful not to include any more of the white pith than necessary. Juice the lemon and orange and add it to a medium saucepan with the peeled zest.
Place the cloves, cardamom, black pepper, and anise in tea filter bags and close them securely, then add these, together with the cinnamon sticks, sugar, and water, to the juice and zest.
Bring the mixture to a simmer over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat to low. Stir occasionally until the juice has reduced by approximately one third, or about 20 minutes.
Add the wine and brandy and stir until it is thoroughly combined. Warm it just to a simmer, but do not let the mulled wine boil.
Set the pan away from the heat and remove the spice bundle(s), cinnamon sticks, and zest. Serve in a mug or stemless glass and garnish with an orange slice, anise pod, and cinnamon stick.