This has been a weird winter in Minnesota. Instead of the normal crisp, chilly air dotted with the distant smell of wood fires burning and the fluffy, white evidence of winter peppering your hair every time you set foot outside, we have been experiencing some unseasonably mild (yet not warm enough to be enjoyable) weather, drowning in rain and clouds and a general feeling of dreariness. Bleh, bleh, bleh…..
Ok, I’ll just go ahead and say it, I REALLY want some SNOW!! I’m a good, hearty Minnesotan. Bring on all the fluffy, white stuff. I’m ready for it. It just doesn’t feel like the holiday season to me without it.
Needless to say, snow or not, tis’ still the season of decorating the ole’ pine tree, Christmas music playing non-stop on my local radio stations and a plethora of holiday gatherings filled with my favorite people in the whole world. These parties are always decadent and consist of some truly mouthwatering fare. Everyone contributes something delicious. Over the last few years, one of my favorite things to bring along is Mulled Wine with Brandy and Cinnamon. When I’m heating up the ingredients on my stove, my house fills with the warm, spicy aromas of Christmas. It’s hot, it’s fruity and it’s a little spicy. It goes down super smooth and makes you feel all toasty from the inside out. It’s the perfect holiday beverage to warm up those chilly nights whether they are soaked with rain or covered in snow!
Mulled Wine with Brandy and Cinnamon
Makes 2 quarts
1 Bottle of Red Wine (I used Shiraz, but any full bodied red wine would do)
3 c. Apple Cider
1 c. Brandy
3 Cinnamon Sticks
25 Whole Allspice Berries
1 Orange (sliced)
1 tbs. Honey
Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan. Be sure to squeeze the orange slices slightly to get all the lovely juice into the wine. Heat over medium heat until it begins to bubble around the sides, then reduce to simmer over low for an additional 10-15 minutes or until it reaches the spice level that you like. I love the spicy flavors of cinnamon, clove and allspice, so I like to let it simmer for at least 15 minutes. Serve hot with a stick of cinnamon for garnish.