While in London last year, we went to our very first Christmas markets! For the uninformed, Christmas markets are a series of food and gift vendors that pop up all decorated outside and found throughout London (and other places in the world).
Having never been to a Christmas market before, there was a lot to take in. An overwhelming amount of smells from various food vendors, cute Christmas trinkets everywhere, and the occasional fire to warm yourself by in the cold winter evenings. With it being cold, one booth caught our attention everytime: the mulled wine stand. Mulled wine is usually red wine that simmers with various spices and citrus, spiked with some liquor, and then served hot. It was a delicious drink to consume while wandering the markets in London, and led me to create this mulled wine recipe!
This mulled wine recipe has a few different things than many you might come across online; however, most ingredients are substitutable or omittable if you don’t have them on hand. One of the significant differences is the absence of sugar as a sweetener. I wanted to stick with a more earthy and natural sweetness, so I use apple cider (the unfiltered, pure apple juice type, not the sparkling) and honey to help sweeten the wine. You can also use just honey or substitute for sugar if you don’t have either.
And if you’ve never made mulled wine, be sure not to open any fancy bottle of wine for it – this is for your cheaper red wines. Kat and I prefer Zinfandels, so I’ve been using a $9 bottle of Bogle Zinfandel for this recipe. And if you’re not a big wine drinker, you might find you enjoy this a lot as a lot of the wine taste is masked by all the other ingredients! And because some of the wine’s alcohol will burn off by the time it finishes cooking, you can make your mulled wine a little more boozy with the addition of brandy and/or orange liquor! I like both but it’s definitely a personal preference.
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Holiday Mulled Wine
- 1 bottle (750ml) red wine
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 2-3 splash orange liquor (Cointreau, Triple Sec, or Grand Mariner)
- 1/2 cup apple cider (unfiltered, raw apple juice)
- 1 orange, peeled and juiced (peels and juice reserved)
- 1/2 orange, thinly sliced (about 1 in. thick)
- 10 whole cloves
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 4 whole star anise
- 6 whole juniper berries (optional)
- 1 whole cardamom pod (optional)
- 1 tbsp honey
- Peel one whole orange. Try to get as little of the white pith on the peel as possible. Add the peel to a pot large enough for all ingredients.
- Take the same orange you peeled and juice the orange juice into the pan with the peels.
- Slice half of your second orange into 4-5 slices and add to your pot. Save remaining half for garnish.
- Add all of the other ingredients and turn to medium heat till steam is visible but not bubbling.
- Turn the pot to low and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust sweetness with more honey if necessary.
- Strain wine from the other ingredients. Serve hot and garnish with cinnamon sticks, orange slices, and cranberries if desired!