If you are over the age of 21 and have a family,
you are well aware of how important
drinking is around the holidays.
Alcohol is a great thing to have around
at any family gathering for
when grandpa needs something to blame for
the awkward racist comments he made at dinner
and mom needs something to help
her forget that it happened.
It's got everyone's back, for better or for worse.
If you've ever hosted a Holiday gathering of any sort,
you also understand that providing such social lubricants
can be an expensive thing.
You spring for the $40 bottle of wine
that gets sucked down before Uncle Jerry is even halfway
through his conspiracy theory rant.
This is a problem.
I have the answer.
Mulling wine cinderellas the crap out of cheap wines.
It's the same logic as any sort of "jungle juice"
or "insert cheap alcohol name here bucket"
you had in college.
Take something cheap, yet alcoholic.
Cover up the bad parts of it with better things.
With mulled wine, you can take a few cheap bottles of wine,
add fruit and cider and spices and a little bit of booze,
and it is cleaned up and ready for the ball.
Trader Joes has a slightly-above-mediocre line of wines
(The Charles Shaw Collection: AKA "Two-Buck Chuck")
that retail between $2-$4 that are perfect for this.
2 bottles of inexpensive red wine. (I used a Merlot)
4 c. apple cider
1/3 c. honey
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise
2 tsp. whole cloves
1/2 c. brandy or bourbon
1 lemon, sliced
2 oranges, sliced
Combine all ingredients in a large pot.
I don't mind the cloves floating around in my wine,
but if this is something that is going to upset you, you can use a mulling bag
or a tied up piece of cheese cloth to contain the spices.
Warm on low heat. Do not bring to a simmer or boil,
this will start to cook the alcohol out.
I like to keep mine on low heat for a while (20 minutes or so)
before serving, and give it a good stir every couple of minutes to really
let the flavors blend together.
Once the mixture is warmed, it is ready to serve!
At this point, you can strain the fruit and spices out if you wish,
but I think it is charming to have little bits of
fruit and cinnamon sticks in the glass.
Call me crazy.
Happy drinking, ladies and gentlemen!