Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mulled Wine and Down for the Count

10, 9, 8, 7, 6.....I have been down for the count. Feeling like the Whac-a-Mole game at the carnival, I just keep popping my head up again and again dodging the mallet! One of the latest whacks was knee surgery a few weeks ago. I've been watching movies and too much TV, reading books and doing some computer work in short spurts while icing my knee instead of icing cakes. Friends, family and neighbors have dug in, shoveling snow, checking in by email or phone offering food and comfort. Nice :-) My friend, Debbie, gave me a very welcome gift of Glögg or mulled wine that she made. It is served warm, which enhances the spices as it snugs the soul. I looked at the recipe she referred me to and liked the addition of port and brandy, which add depth. We all have our favorite spices and I prefer cinnamon over the stronger taste of clove. When a recipe calls for cloves, I often just give it a dusting instead of the full amount since their bold flavor can dominate. The mulled wine stores well in a sealed bottle and just a small mug of it takes the chill out while watching snow fall, coming in out of the cold or icing the knee...I think I'll just mull that over...5, 4, 3...

Mulled Wine

1.5 liters medium body inexpensive red wine
1.5 liters inexpensive port (the less it costs, the better)
750 ml inexpensive brandy
2 cinnamon sticks, each 5 inches long
1 whole nutmeg
15 cardamom pods, cracked
3 whole cloves (or more to your liking)
peel of 1 orange, organic is best
1/2 cup dried sour cherries, (may substitute raisins)
1/2 cup whole almonds, blanched and peels removed
1/2 cup
or more to taste, turbinado sugar
Orange rind and cinnamon sticks for garnish

In a nonreactive pot such as stainless steel, pour in the wine and port. Add the cinnamon sticks, whole nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, orange peel, cherries and almonds. Cover and simmer over low heat.

Put the sugar in a pot and add half of the brandy. Over medium-low heat, stir constantly until it becomes a golden caramelized syrup, about 10-15 minutes. Then add this mixture to the wine simmering in the pot, cover and continue simmering for another 45-60 minutes. At this point, test for sweetness and add more sugar and brandy if you like. Strain* and serve or pour into clean bottles and seal. If you are serving a crowd, you can pour it all into a slow cooker to keep warm.

*You can reserve the soaked cherries to use in baking.

Serve warm in a small mug and garnish with a twist of orange peel and a cinnamon stick.

Makes about 5, 750ml bottles.

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