Ever since I lived in Europe, the holidaze are not the same without Mulled Wine. My first exposure to it was at the Deutsche Weihnachtsmarkts (German Christmas Markets), which are all outdoors. Little kiosks dot the central squares with fire pits for warming in between the vendors selling homemade wares, foods, holiday decorations, roasted chestnuts, and of course Glühwein, all while festive musicians and dancers entertain the holiday shoppers. Then I learned about Gløgg, brandied version of mulled wine from my Nordic neighbors. Next I tasted Vin Chaud in Paris. And in December of 1995, it was vareno vino in Macedonia. Often in the European Christmas Markets you could pay a deposit (around $5) and get to keep the mug, that would be a souvenir for that holiday season. I have several in my collection that I still use today. It would be a few years back living in the states where I was suddenly missing such a wonderful traditions. Getting an outdoor market, however, in America was not going to happen, but I sure could make some mulled wine myself and it’s super easy. You can do it, too. The recipe below is enough to serve about three adults for an evening or afternoon in the holiday season of wrapping presents or coming back from skiing. However, I use my big crock pot so a box of wine triples the recipe and fills the crock. Not to worry, trust me, this goes fast, especially if you’re entertaining.
1 bottle of red wine (it doesn’t need to be fancy, hence the box o’ wine)
2 oranges — one that you will poke with whole cloves, another that you will peel and slice out
Enough whole cloves to pierce one orange.
Apple Cider (you can use juice in a pinch)
Food-grade kitchen twine
Poke the one orange with the cloves to intermingle the aromatics of the orange and cloves.
It should look something like this:
Put the clove-studded orange in the crock pot. Next make your aromatics bag. Break the cinnamon stick at least in half before adding to release even more cinnamon goodness. Add a few whole star anise (about a tablespoon) and cardamon (about a teaspoon), and a few slices of crystallized ginger.
Tie up the aromatics bag and stick in crock pot.
Pour the whole bottle of wine into the crock pot. next add 2 cups of apple cider. Then the peels and orange slices of the second orange. Add a few shots of brandy if you’re so inclined (this is more Gløgg than Glühwein).
Turn on low (use high if you’re in a hurry, but it will still take an hour or more to get ready on high) and let it fill the air with its holiday goodness. When it’s warm like tea, it’s ready to drink. Be sure to ladle in one orange slice into each mug. After it’s warmed, be sure to turn your crock to “keep warm” setting. You don’t want this boiling.
Sip around the fire with twinkle lights comfy clothes and your favorite people. Goes very well with roasted chestnuts or Yule cookies. Enjoy.