One of the fun parts about marrying a foreigner is getting to learn a whole new set of holiday traditions. And Nick’s family is like mine, in that they’ve been doing the same things at Christmas time year after year. I think in both our families, we all feel that celebrating long-held traditions is comforting and that it brings everyone together.
One of my favorite things I learned from him is how to make mulled wine. To me, nothing says Christmas like the scents of oranges, cloves, cinnamon and red wine that permeate my entire home as the drink simmers on the stove.
Last night I made Nick write down his mulled wine recipe for me so I could share it with you.
In a large stockpot, combine 1.75 liters of cheap red table wine, 1 liter of Sprite and 3 cups of orange juice. Take 2 oranges and stick cloves in their rind, then cut them in half before adding to the pot. Now it’s time to make a spice sachet. (Honestly, he doesn’t always make the spice sachet from scratch. He often uses some pre-mixed spices that we got from Williams-Sonoma.) Take nutmeg, ground cinnamon, and more cloves (all to taste) and wrap them in a piece of cheesecloth, forming a small pouch. Tie it at the top with kitchen string, and leave a long piece of the string extending. You’re going to drop the sachet in the pot like a teabag, and the string allows you to pull it out easily.
Once everything’s combined, just simmer it all on low heat. After about an hour, taste it. Then add brown sugar in small amounts until it’s sweet enough for you, and simmer a bit longer. It’s really quite easy.
I will say that this entire recipe is pretty much “to taste.” If you like a heavier drink, add more wine. Lighter, add more Sprite. If you love cinnamon, add a lot. If you think it tastes too spicy, take the sachet out and add more sugar. The more you make it, the more you’ll play around with and learn the exact combination that you like.
We usually make a really large quantity of this and then leave it on the stovetop for days. The smell is divine, and all you do is just reheat the pot whenever you want some. It’s great to have it ready to serve on those occasions when company pops over.
I’d love it if you’d share some of your holiday traditions in the comments!