Holiday Mulled Wine and Cider

Along with the aromas of turkey and potatoes and pie, holiday mulled wine shares an equal space in the palette of aromas here during the holidays.

Wine is a nice table beverage, but mulled wine takes this beverage up a step to that of a comforting, warm pre-dessert drink. It’s so easy to make and once it is you can just keep it warm in your crockpot, on hand to serve to guests throughout the day. If you’ve got a crowd of mixed ages and tastes, make up a second crock of mulled cider. Your house will smell amazing!

Mulled Wine

  • 2 bottles of dark red wine, your choice (you can go cheap on this!)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brandy or rum
  • 1 navel or 2 mandarin oranges, unpeeled but washed well and cut in slices
  • 1 Tbl. mulling spices (make sure it includes nutmeg nuggets and cloves, or you’ll need those)
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced open lengthwise
  • 1-2 anise stars (I use 1, others prefer 2)

Tie up the mulling spices, vanilla bean, and anise in some cheesecloth or a mulling bag. Make a simple syrup by pouring 1 cup of wine and 1 cup of sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and stirring. Add the spice packet when sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and allow to simmer for 5-7 minutes. The liquid should thicken just slightly.

Pour in the remainder of the wine (both bottles) and add the orange slices. Maintain heat just below a simmer for about 15 minutes.

At this point, you can either turn the heat way down low, or pour the whole mixture into a crock pot with a WARM setting, and add the brandy or rum. Taste to see if you like where it’s at spice-wise. If you do, remove the mulling spices. If not, leave them in and taste it periodically. I usually leave the spices and orange slices in for a couple of hours. Serve in mugs, NOT wine glasses because this mix is too warm for them. (Ask me how I know!)

Please note: This is a bit of a strong drink. You can use less brandy/rum or skip it altogether if you prefer. Serve earlier in the day or ensure there are designated drivers after your get together. Please don’t drink and drive. Be safe!

Mulled Cider

  • 1 gallon fresh apple cider (you’ll recognize it at the store because it is dark and cloudy, not clear like apple juice)
  • 2 Tbl mulling spices
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced open lengthwise

I make this first thing in the morning so there’s plenty of time for the cider to mull.

Wrap the spices and vanilla bean up in cheesecloth, as you did for the mulled wine. Pour the entire gallon of cider into a crockpot and drop in the spice packet. Turn it on HIGH for two hours, then down to WARM for the rest of the day. Pull the spice pack out when the flavor is where you like it.

I like to keep both of these on low in crocks on the counter for guests as they mingle throughout the day.

Happy holidays!

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