What’s not to love about wine—which is delightful by itself—infused with a bunch of delicious spices and flavors? It’s just so festive. Herman Melville, who wrote Moby Dick, thought so too. In a letter to his buddy, Nathaniel Hawthorne (author of The Scarlet Letter), Melville even used mulled wine as bait to get Hawthorne to come for a visit; in the 1851 letter he wrote, “There is some excellent Montado Sherry awaiting you & some most potent port. We will have mulled wine with wisdom, & buttered toast with story-telling & crack jokes & bottles from morning till night.”
I like to lure friends with alcohol as well. Last week I successfully brought together one friend from Florida and another friend in Harlem, and together we made mulled wine and listened to music and talked about writing. Here’s a playlist for you to listen to while you’re making the wine.
8 cups apple cider
2 bottles red wine
⅓ cup brown sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
zest and juice of 1 orange
6 star anise
Put all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. If the mulled wine isn’t strong enough for you, add some liquor.
Alternatively, if you don’t want the alcohol to evaporate at all, you have a couple of other options:
- Heat the wine slowly while stirring occasionally, letting the sugar dissolve and the spices meld.
- You’ll need an extra orange for this one. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Stick the cloves into the orange flesh and bake for 15-20 minutes. Juice and zest the other orange and set aside in a small bowl. Combine brown sugar and ¼ cup water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved, then add cinnamon sticks and star anise to the mixture. Simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened. When the orange has baked until soft, heat the wine and apple cider in a saucepan over low heat. Add the clove-studded baked orange, juice and zest of the other orange, and the sugar syrup with cinnamon sticks and star anise to the wine mixture. Heat for at least half an hour to let the spices infuse, stirring occasionally and never allowing the mixture to boil.