This recipe is not your knock-you-out variety. It's a bit more tame and friendly. I start with a strong brew of tea, either Earl Grey or Assam, which I simmer with sugar, orange rind and juice, and the spices: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, star anise, and cardamom. I pour in the wine and simmer just until it's hot. Any longer would lose all the alcohol, which is the key if you expect to get a bit of buzz after drinking this concoction. The tea adds a more complex flavor and keeps the drink from getting way too potent. It's not traditional, but it's my new custom for mulling wine.
Mulled Wine and Tea
3 cups strong brewed tea
3/4 cup sugar
1 orange, peel and juice
2 sticks cinnamon, plus more for garnish
12 gratings nutmeg
2 star anise
5 cardamom pods
1 750-ml bottle dry red wine, such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon
Bring the tea to a simmer in a medium pot. Add orange peel and juice, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and cardamom. Simmer gently until the sugar is dissolved and the orange rind has taken on the color of the wine, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the wine and bring the mixture to a simmer. Ladle the mulled wine into mugs and add a cinnamon stick to each for a stirrer. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
Joseph Erdos is a New York–based writer and editor, but above all a gastronomer and oenophile. He shares his passion for food on his blog, Gastronomer's Guide , which features unique recipes and restaurant reviews among many other musings on the all-encompassing topic of food.