Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy St. Valentine's Day + Mulled Wine

Happy Saint Valentine's Day! 

I've crossed the 2,000 tweet barrier, with a brief note about Tarell Alvin McCraney's impressive duo (from his Brother and Sister Plays trio) of plays I saw today, The Brothers Size and Marcus, or the Secret of Sweet, but I don't have time to blog about them, or the short film and accompanying talk on "Princess Vivian" I heard my colleague E. Patrick Johnson give this past Thursday, or a number of other things that have been rolling around my head, like the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and the tragic training crash of Nodar Kumaritashvili, one of the Georgian lugers, so instead, for all who are dealing with the cold and may need some fortification, here is my annual post on how to make delicious mulled wine.

Mulled Red Wine (hat tips go to Toni A. L. and Krista F. and James Earl H. and Donald A. for their delicious versions).


2 bottles of merlot, red zinfandel or a similar wine ($5-9 range, not too cheap, not to expensive)
2/3rds cup of sugar or honey
zest from 1/2-1 orange
10 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup of brandy or cognac (not too cheap*)
+ non-reactive pot, muddler/spoon, non-reactive bowl/mortar, stirring spoon, mugs/coffee cups/warming cups.

1. Pour the red wine in a non-reactive pot (non-stick, tempered glass/Pyrex, stainless steel, etc.), and heat over a low flame. Avoid very cheap wines, since they grow unpalatable when heated, and avoid aluminum, which will react with the wine.
2. With a vegetable peeler, zester or paring knife, zest the orange, making sure to avoid the white backing of the peel and rind, since there's less flavor and it can be bitter.
3. Muddle (or mash with a pestle or spoon) the zest/peel, releasing the oils, in a non-reactive (glass, porcelain) bowl or mortar.
4. Add the zest/peel to the wine.
5. Stir in the sugar, making sure it dissolves, then add the cloves and cinnamon sticks.
6. Add the 1/2 cup of brandy or cognac (the better the quality, the better the taste--and it adds real bite).
7. Heat until the wine is steaming, but try not to let it boil.
8. Set it aside, let it cool, and then ladle it into mugs, and enjoy!

Also, you can use this recipe to mull cider (with the added brandy punch) or dry white wine (which might be a bit...unusual at first to the palate!), so see what you come up with. A little fortified elixir is a good thing on a cold night.

*I did once buy very, very, very cheap "French" brandy, to save money, and let me just say, it wasn't like "honey" in the slightest but it did "burn the throat." I believe I could have used it as turpentine, had I need to strip anything. Aim for $7 range minimum if you can afford it.

(And remember, if you have more than a glass, designate a responsible driver, hire a cab or hit the public transportation!)

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