Steamy hot mulled wine has been warming cold hands and whipping up holiday spirit for centuries. I’ve just been waiting for the temperatures to drop a bit to share this recipe with you — I think you’re going to love this easy, slow cooker method. When our kids were young I always made spiced cider in the slow cooker for holiday parties. Everybody would wander in to the kitchen and fill their mugs. Now that my kids are of legal age, we’re upping the ante, and mulling wine. Some of my favorite alcoholic drinks are served hot, but most of them are after dinner deals. I love this because it starts party off. In fact it’s the perfect way to start almost any fall or winter gathering. Everybody can fill up their own mug or paper cup and mingle. Ladle it into thermoses for tailgating and other outdoor events.
There are so many variations on this drink, but basically it consists of red wine, sweetened just a little bit, and mulled, or steeped, with spices and fruit. Sometimes it’s ‘enriched’ with a little brandy. All you really have to do is warm it up, let it hang out for a bit, and serve. For harvest celebrations, I’d do the spices along with clementines, but for the winter holidays I like to use fresh cranberries and rosemary sprigs. Traditional European recipes call for raisins, so it wouldn’t be out of place to use dried cranberries, too.
You can serve the wine in paper cups, mugs, or glasses, but because the wine is hot, I like to fit the glasses with knitted cuffs. I make them out of old socks or the sleeves of thrift store sweaters. You can use your cozies for all kinds of hot drinks like coffee, tea, Irish coffee type drinks, and cocoas too. I’m going to post an easy tutorial on how to do it, so stay tuned!
The crock pot method is perfect for making mulled wine because the low even temperature will insure that the wine doesn’t boil, and you can make it and forget it just before your guests arrive.
This is a recipe that you can feel confident in adjusting to your taste. Use whatever red wine you like, leave out spices you don’t like, add more of those you do. You can use honey in place of sugar. Play with it, taste as you go, and make it your own.
What You Will Need
- 1 bottle red wine
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp whole allspice berries
- 4 star anise
- 1/2 tsp whole cloves
- 5 whole cardamom pods, lightly crushed with the back of a spoon to expose the seeds
- 1/2 vanilla bean, slit down the center (if you save pods this is a good time to reuse one)
- a good grating of fresh nutmeg (about 1/4 tsp)
- 8 clementines, cut in half (remove any seeds)
- garnish each glass with a cinnamon stick and a star anise
- switch out the clementines for 1/2 cup cranberry juice and 1/2 cup whole fresh cranberries
- add 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
- garnish each glass with a sprig of rosemary and a few cranberries
- Put the water and sugar in the crock pot and turn on high. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Juice 4 of the clementines and add to the pot.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and heat until the wine just gets to a simmer. Then turn the dial to the 'keep warm' setting and let it sit for about 30 minutes before serving.
- You can strain the wine before serving, or not.
- For the Holiday version, the process is the same, omit the clementines and use cranberries and rosemary.
You can double the recipe, but the actual whole spices don't have to be doubled.
Ok, so it’s the last day of October, wow did that go by fast. And we’re turning back our clocks this weekend — you know what that means…let’s get this party started!