The Germans call it glogg; to the French, it's vin chaud. However you pronounce it, there's really nothing better than mulled wine for warming up in the wintertime.
Hot chocolate may be delicious, but the best versions soon become cloying; coffee is a personal favorite, but after the caffeine injection of a cup or two, it can be tough to relax after a long day. Mulled wine has just enough additional heat from the red wine and kirsch to be absolutely perfect for enjoying in front of the fire with your favorite healthy Christmas cookies and slowly slipping into a nice, winter slumber.
When making mulled wine, be sure to use organic citrus; treated citrus can be toxic, especially in recipes like this, where the zest is used. Choose the bottle of red you use carefully. Use a wine that you enjoy, as it will be the dominant flavor. However, using a less expensive bottle is perfectly fine: the addition of spices, sugar and kirsch will take the edge off a less-than-perfect red. As always when cooking with wine, the rule of thumb is to never use a wine you wouldn't drink. But shelve your favorite bottles for enjoying alone, and instead pick a budget-friendly sulfite-free organic red for this recipe.
Mulled Wine Recipe
8 whole cloves
4 whole black peppercorns
4 strips fresh lemon zest, removed with a vegetable peeler lengthwise from organic lemons
4 strips fresh orange zest, removed with a vegetable peeler lengthwise from organic oranges
1.5 liters dry red wine (two bottles)
1/2 cup kirsch
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1 orange, cut into slices
Place all ingredients except orange slices in a large stock pot and heat over low heat for fifteen minutes until infused.
Add oranges. Ladle into mugs and serve warm. Garnish with extra cinnamon sticks, if desired.
Image: Danny Nicholson