One of my favorite holiday drinks is mulled cider or wine. I love the taste, but the aromas that permeate the house really appeal to me. All those spicy smells mingling in the air with the holiday greenery and the excitement of the season. Apple cider is clearly the choice for sipping throughout the day, something that I like to do while cooking. It's also a nice choice for a non-alcoholic beverage for a New Year's Eve celebration. Mulled red wine makes an elegant beverage for wine drinkers.
The following recipe is delicious and can be used to make either mulled cider or mulled wine with equally good results. I always try to find or choose a cider with some character to it. As for wine, the best mulled wine I’ve ever made was with a Sterling Vineyards Zinfandel Port, but almost any hearty red wine will do. (Normally, the idea of “adulterating” a good wine with a bunch of spices might not go down well with the connoisseurs among us, but note that I am very choosy when it comes to wine, and yet I have consistently chosen to use my best for making my annual mulled brew.)
This recipe should be made a day in advance, to let the spices impart the most flavor. Just reheat when ready to serve.
Holiday Mulled Cider or Wine
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
1 stick cinnamon
1 nutmeg seed, smashed
6 allspice berries
6 whole cloves
1 quart apple cider or 1 litre wine
1 cup fresh lemon juice, hot
Place the sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil quickly, then simmer until the sugar dissolves completely.
Add the spices and allow the mixture to sit overnight.
In the morning, strain the mixture.
Right before serving, heat the wine or cider until just simmering, then remove from the heat.
Quickly add the spiced sugar syrup and the hot lemon juice and mix together thoroughly.