This particular recipe is a treasured one in the Team Slommins teamdom, if for no other reason than with every sip it brings us back to that magical land called Brussels, the land of waffle vans and really old walls and obscene statues and ginormous beers, the place we both decided was the most magical and wonderful place on the planet we've ever ever visited, and OH MY GOD CAN I GO BACK YET? (I also wrote about that particular trip here and here and here and here and here and here.)
So yeah. Brussels is awesome. But mulled wine also happens to be awesome IF you don't add a billion pounds of sugar to it. Which pretty much every recipe I've ever encountered does. SO. I bring you mine, which is relatively standard except I don't add 2 cups of sugar or 1 cup of sugar or even 1/2 cup of sugar. In fact, what you'll need is this:
which is this:
- 3 3-inch sticks of cinnamon, or the number of sticks of cinnamon it'll take you to equal about 9 inches of cinnamon lined up end to end, like you were measuring the distance to the moon or the circumference of the Earth or whatever those meaningless statistics Fig Newtons and whomever use to tell you just how many Fig Newtons or whatever are sold each year
- 10 whole cloves
- 10 black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon allspice berries
- 2 bottles medium- or full-bodied red wine (e.g., shiraz, pinot noir, zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, oh my God, whatever, etc.)
- 4 healthy strips of orange zest
- 1/4 cup sugar
Add your wine, orange zest, and sugar. Stir the pot up every once in a while to dissolve the sugar as you bring this up to a simmer.
Then, partially cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for an hour until the wine is infused. DO NOT LET IT BOIL. (I don't know why, I just know that if you let this boil it gets all harsh and brassy and I guess that's why you shouldn't let this boil. Go figure.)
After an hour, give it a taste; it should be a little sweet and a little spicy and not overly... anything. It's hard to explain. But if you'd like it a little sweeter add a very little bit of sugar at a time, but not before...
you add some brandy! See, you pretty much cook out most of the alcohol as you're mulling your wine, and one of the homiest bestest parts of drinking mulled wine is the warm homeyness that spreads through your chest with each sip. (Seriously, this is like the best anti-depressant IN THE WORLD.)
So add a glug or two of brandy to your mug and then ladle in some hot, steaming mulled wine and take a sip.
And then put on some Christmas music and prepare to be transported to your own personal winter wonderland. (Or add a little more sugar as is your wont. But I don't advise it (says the girl who hates fruity drinks).)
(By the way, this is supposed to serve 8. But we're alcoholics so we drank up the whole pot last night while catching up with all the crap television on our DVR. Hence tonight's whiskey.)