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Mulled wine

Here in Minnesota, when winter chills to the bone, my beverage choices lean toward warm and steamy. Usually, hot buttered rum, hot apple cider, hot cocoa and spicy teas come to mind. Searching for something warm and festive so serve when hosting a casual dinner party, I came across mulled wine. Knowing our guests’ penchant for red wines, it was a foregone conclusion.

Great Britain has deep cultural ties to mulled wine with recipes found in medieval cookbooks. It was considered a lower class beverage – poorly stored wines required the added spices, as well as heat, to improve flavor.

There are many different names for mulled wines the world over, as well as ingredients, but the most common ingredients include sugar, citrus (oranges, lemons and/or limes), cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, star anise and cardamom. The Wine Enthusiast lists some of the monikers, countries and components as: Glühwein, Germany/Austria: brandy or rum; Vin Chaud, France: Cognac; Vinho Quente, Portugal/Brazil: Port and Madeira; Vino Caliente, Spain: Vanilla bean and Brandy de Jerez; Gløgg, Norway: Aquavit, raisins and sliced almonds; Greyano Vino, Bulgaria: Honey and peppercorn; Caribou, Quebec: Whiskey and maple syrup.

Delicious without mulling spices, Carlos Creek Hot Dish Red nevertheless received some special treatment. The sweet, fullbodied blend of Minnesota grapes is unaged and unoaked with fruity notes of juicy blackberries and a hint of spice. It is also Carlos Creek’s best selling wine. When combined with the spices, it became a cozy, aromatic, belly-warming beverage. The mulled wine simmered in the slow cooker all afternoon and our guests remarked on the amazing fragrance when arriving at our home.

Not only does mulled wine warm you with its deliciousness, I came a cross a website that touted nine surprising health benefits of drinking mulled wine, in moderation, of course. I won’t list them all here, just my favorite: “3. Slowing down ageing. The resveratrol in red wine is also thought to help rejuvenate cells and slow the ageing process. A high concentration of resveratrol also helps fight against damaging free radicals in the skin, keeping you looking younger.” Just google it!

Mulled Wine

4 cups apple cider

1 (750-ml) bottle red wine

1/4 cup honey

2 cinnamon sticks

1 orange, zested and juiced

4 whole cloves

3 star anise

4 oranges, peeled, for garnish

Combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves and star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes (or simmer in slow cooker). Pour into mugs, add an orange peel to each and serve.

recipe courtesy Ina Garten | Food Network

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