20 September 2013

Mulled Wine Rocks

My mulled wine simmering away
in my cauldron I mean crock pot
It’s been a long week. I’m used to having long days (are there any other kind anymore, seriously?) but this past week was especially hectic, and I am just thankful I made it through until Friday. Now if I can just make it until the end of the day, I have a gloriously relaxing weekend in the woods to look forward to in celebration of the Autumn Equinox and Mabon, one of my favorite holidays—second only to Samhaine. By the way, my costume this year is already complete :) I knocked it out a few weekends ago whilst watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy, extended editions, of course. My friends and I are all dressing up as elves, dwarves and hobbits and hitting the fabulous streets of Austin, TX for the weekend prior to Halloween/Samhaine. So if you see an elegantly dressed lady-elf in forest-green satin, pine-green silk, leaf-green chiffon and ocean-teal velvet, that’s me! So feel free to come up to me and go, “Oh hey there, crazy person! I read your blog! You should really edit more.”

I don’t anticipate being recognized.

But I digress. Back to Mabon and the awesomeness that will ensue this weekend. As I mentioned in my previous post, I have recently started attending the weekly meetings of a local Open Circle. Thus, for the first time ever, I will be attending a truly group ritual, in the woods, with a bonfire. I am so unbelievably excited!! I spent all last evening gathering supplies and mulling wine, which I then bottled and put in the fridge to chill (gotta account for this Texas heat…no hot beverages here). Naturally I sampled the end product last night while it was still warm and fresh out of the crock pot, oozing spiciness and orange tang. I plan on sampling the chilled version this evening after work—you know, just to make sure it still tastes right—whilst packing my cooler and preparing my “milk and honey corn pudding” batter for the potluck. See, before Saturday’s sunset ritual, they have a potluck dinner; so I plan on using my trusty crock pot to slow-cook some corn pudding. It is a harvest celebration, after all. So I figure, I pre-make the batter, put all the mixed up ingredients in a giant ziplock bag (or two) and keep it in my cooler until it’s time to start cooking.

Thus, in light of it being officially autumn here soon (some lucky places have already started experiencing this most wonderful of seasons), I will share my mulled wine recipe. Once upon a time, I used to host a lot of Halloween parties (high school) and then Christmas/Yule parties (college). While I began with mulling cider, by the time all my friends—or at least most of them—were of age, I graduated to mulling wine. Before I had a crock pot I would just use a giant stock pot and let it simmer on the stove, so that method is also a good one, you just have to watch the pot more to make sure it doesn’t start outright boiling. You don’t want to be cooking off any of the alcohol, if it is wine you happen to be mulling. That said, in a pinch, you can always spike the end product with brandy or cognac if you are afraid your wine lost its kick.

First off, you need to be gathering your ingredients. Any fruits (preferably citrus) or spices of the cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice variety (whole or coarsely ground is best so that you can easily remove them later) you desire. Here’s what I used:

  • One orange, cut into quarters
  • Four sticks cinnamon
  • Mulling spices (whole cloves, large pieces of allspice, some dried bits of orange peel)
  • 2x extra large bottles of dry red (I used a Gallo Family Merlot; you can totally mull cheap wine! In fact, the cheaper the better, because you won’t tell the difference in the end)
  • Sugar or honey (I used about 1 cup of sugar, but you can use as much as 2 or just go all out and make it super sweet)

A) Crock pot method.
  1. Open wine bottles. Pour wine in crock pot.
  2. Squeeze juice from orange sections into wine. Plop squeezed orange sections into the wine afterwards for extra pulpy goodness and orangey flavor.
  3. Drop in your spices (cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, and whatever else you want to use) and sugar. Stir with obnoxiously large wooden spoon. Cackle. 
  4. Cover and cook on high for about 2 hours or on low for about 4. You can cook it longer if you want, but you don’t want it to boil; just heat up and simmer and get the wine all delightfully infused with the spice and fruit flavors.
  5. Reduce crock pot to “keep warm” (If you have that setting, or else just keep it on low and remove the lid) and serve with a ladle. Be careful; it’s hot. Drinkable, but hot.
B) Stovetop method.
  1. Follow steps 1-3 above, substituting a large stock pot or sauce pan for the crock pot. The most imporant part is the cackling; if fascilitates the strirring.
  2. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat.
  3. Let simmer for about 10 minutes then reduce heat to medium-low for at least an hour.
  4. Keep warm on low heat and serve with a ladle.
C) If you desire to chill your mulled wine and serve it cold, more like a sangria:
  1. Carefully—it will spill, so do this process either over the sink or over the pot so that you don't waste the runoff—ladle the warm mulled wine into a bottle (or two, or three). Using a funnel would probably help, but I don't happen to own one, so this step was particularly messy for me.
  2. Refrigerate overnight or until it's reached the desired coolness.
  3. Serve over ice in cute little tumblers.
=And there you have it, folks! Hot or cold, mulled wine is delicious. It’s known as Glühwein (pronounced GLUE-vine) in Germany and глинтвейн (pronounced GLINT-vine) in Russia. I’ve drunk it both places, and I’ve made it several times, and let me tell you there is almost no way to mess it up. Whatever fruits and spices you thrown in there, it’s going to taste good. Kind of like tiramisu: the basic ingredients are just so yummy, that it’s hard to find a bad version of it. Some mulled wines are sweeter than others; some are more alcoholic than others. I prefer to preserve the wine of mine instead of spiking it further, because then it’s hard to keep track of exactly how much alcohol is in there, but either way, the bottom line here is that mulled wine rocks, and you should go make some.

Right now. Go.

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