Christmas party went off without a hitch...well, except that we went through the drinks a little fast and in the end resorted to straight up wine and beer. No problems there, though, as just about everyone who came did so with at least a bottle of wine in hand.
One of the drinks we ran out of, mulled wine, seems to be a perennial favourite. I think it's the mystery factor...how do you make hot wine, tasty and zippy, without losing the booze?
Here's the recipe I made up for Saturday (which worked, apparently). Really simple, and easy to throw together with whatever is on hand, if you've got the juice and wine around anyway.
3 cups juice (pref. a red juice without too much sugar)
1.5 cups white sugar
3 litres red wine (use cheap table wine, or go fancy if you must)
4-5 cinnamon sticks
anise seed or star anise (a pinch of seed works fine)
1 lemon, washed and thickly sliced
1 orange or two clementines, washed and sliced.
Optional: handful of fresh or frozen cranberries, raspberries, or cherries
In a large pot bring to a boil the juice and sugar, spices, and fruits, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a simmer. The point to getting it to boil is that it lets your sugar melt, and opens up the flavour of the spices and fruit.
Add the wine.
You now want to simmer the concoction for a good two hours, if not longer. The key is that it not come to a boil. Use your smallest and lowest-power burner on the stove to make sure you never reach that boiling point. Don't cover the pot - you want the steam to come off your mulled wine.
To serve, ladle wine through a strainer over your mugs - so your guests don't get a big piece of clove stuck in their throat! No garnish required, but a cinnamon stick wouldn't hurt.
As the evening progresses and the levels in the pot drop, you'll need to turn off the burner entirely. You may also want to remove the fruit, as it will continue to flavour the wine, and that can get a bit strong. Then again, if you're drinking the wine, you won't really care all that much anymore!
Cheers, and enjoy responsibly.