With the holidays behind us and your white Christmas officially turned to nothing but a cold, grey winter… and January can feel, well, bleak. I think January is an opportune time to play host to your friends. Everyone needs an excuse to get out of the house! Host some friends, have the fireplace going, play some cards, and have some laughs. We’re all in this together, right? I think the perfect party drink for a January night is mulled wine. Steaming and delicious, how wonderful would you feel if you were presented with a hot mug of mulled wine as you walk into a dinner party? It will scent your entire home with inviting, spicy smells.
This recipe comes from a write up I came across about the mulled wine at Chef April Bloomfield’s wildly popular NYC gastropub, The Spotted Pig. I made this for my family on Christmas Eve, and my thoughts instantly went to what a great mid-winter party drink this would make. We sipped on this as a pre-dinner drink; it would be raved about with a Spotted Pig inspired menu – like burgers topped with Roquefort and bacon wrapped figs.
The Spotted Pig’s Mulled Wine
- 4 750 ml bottles of red wine
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1 orange sliced in wheels
- ½ lemon sliced in wheels
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped (use the scraping and the pod)
- ¾ tsp whole cloves
- 4 bay leaves
- +¾ teaspoon whole allspice
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1tsp whole black peppercorn
- 2 cups superfine sugar
- 3-4 oz of cognac
Combine all ingredients, except the cognac, in a large stockpot. Bring everything just to a boil over medium high heat and stir often to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and add the cognac (do not continue to boil the mixture, or you’ll cook off the alcohol – and that would be a shame.) Ladle into warmed glasses or mugs and garnish with an orange wheel.
My Tips: If you can boil water, you can make mulled wine. The hardest part is gathering all of the spices – some of which you probably have on hand. The superfine sugar is suggested, as it is more easily dissolved.
No need to use your best bottles of wine or even your average wine. I made this recipe with two 1.5 liter bottles of inexpensive Frontera Carmenère and finished with Hennessy cognac to a great flavor success. The cognac adds a boozy, warming kick at the end, but allows all of the mulling spices to shine through.
The spices are loose- so straining out the whole spices is suggested if you don’t care for the rustic appeal of the floating clove OR, wrap all the spices into a bit of cheese cloth to pick right out after adding the cognac.
If you are short on stove space, or want to make the mulled wine- to go, heat the wine slowly in a slow cooker and add the cognac just before serving.
Cheers to a warm winter! – Lindsey Coleman