I remember the first time I tried mulled wine… a few years ago, J & I went to Montreal for New Years Eve. It was a bit of a luxurious weekend – we stayed at The W Hotel, got all dressed up, had a 5-star dinner, and danced all night long… But every single time we stepped outdoors to explore the city, we instantly regretted our decision. It was freezing cold. With temperatures hitting -30°C (for you Americans that’s -22ºF) we would race from the Metro to the Cafe and back, upon my insistence, of course, that we explore the city…
So… when you’re running around a frozen city in the attempt to stay warm, and a sign pops up: “Try Our Hot Wine” – you do it. Even if you’re not a red wine drinker. Even if you’ve never had it before. Even if you enter the cafe and the place is deserted and multi-coloured and flourescent and wannabe retro in a non-cute kitsch sorta way. You put out an intention to get warm and here is your answer! Hot Wine.
Ah, relief from the cold. Hot wine, s’il vous plait!
Ever since that first sip, I fell in love with mulled wine. It’s especially perfect when you’re absolutely frozen to the bone, but just as nice when enjoyed with appetizers, cozy and warm! It’s the perfect drink to serve during a holiday party or a casual meet-up with friends. I like to make my mulled wine in a crockpot or slow cooker, so that while I’m getting ready the whole house fills up with the delicious scent of cloves, nutmeg, berries, and cinnamon. It’s just as easy to make over the stove, but if the pot isn’t watched closely, it may boil, which will boil the alcohol out of it – and then what’s the point….!
A well-made charcuterie board is the perfect thing to serve guests when you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. It’s always wise to have a few unique items on hand to throw together a plate. My favourite items on a charcuterie plate? Prosciutto, German Salami, dried figs and apricots, crackers, fresh baguette slices, berries or and fresh fruit, olives, pickles, nuts, and a few cheeses that make things interesting. My last cheese purchase was a ‘Cheddar Cheese Goat Cheese with Maple Syrup’ – it was amazing.
For dessert? S’mores do the trick – made in the toaster oven, of course! Quick, easy, and cozy is the trick for cold winter nights! Bowls full of chocolate-covered almonds, pretzels, and spiced popcorn is always nice to have around as well. Entertaining doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful if you have these tricks up your sleeve!
You will notice in the recipe I don’t specify a type of red wine to use, because honestly it doesn’t matter. If you know your red wines, choose what you like! If you don’t know red wines, you can ask for something on the ‘fruity’ side, but any Cabernet, Chianti, or even Zinfandel will do. You can use a mixture of both, if you’re making a large batch! The brandy is also optional, but it adds a nice flavour and warmth to the mulled wine, I highly recommend it!
- 1-2 bottles of red wine
- ⅓ - ½ cup of brandy (optional)
- 2 cups of orange juice
- 1 cup of fresh or frozen cranberries
- ½ cup of granulated sugar (can sub with honey or maple syrup)
- 2 medium oranges
- 6 whole cloves
- 3 anise stars
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- Garnishes: cinnamon sticks, orange slices, and fresh cranberries
- Put wine, brandy, orange juice, cranberries and sugar into slow cooker, stirring to dissolve sugar.
- Zest, then quarter, the oranges, placing into slow cooker.
- Add cloves, anise, and cinnamon sticks (bonus: put in a cheesecloth for easy clean-up) into slow cooker.
- Cook on LOW for 2-3 hours. Ensure mixture does not boil.
- Serve in mugs and garnish with cinnamon stick, orange slices and fresh cranberries.
LIKE this recipe? PIN it for later! Let me know if you have any questions with this recipe – it’s fairly foolproof and easy to adjust to your liking!