Years ago I had my first taste of hot mulled wine at a friend’s apartment in Bogotá, Colombia, which we sipped while listening to Edith Piaf after a glorious dinner of beef tenderloin (lomo). Maria Consuela had spent time in the U.S. and Europe during her college years and liked to share her cultural experiences from all the places she had lived and visited. She befriended the new teachers at the school and introduced us to the beauty of a country that still to this day many people would fear to set foot in. I don’t know what she put in the wine that night, I only remember that it smelled and tasted fantastic.
Until then, my wine experience had been limited, and included a rather horrible bout with box wine in the Outback that left me with the mother of all migraines and the opinion that perhaps wine was not for me. So all these years later I must thank my friend and colleague Maria Consuela for introducing me to good hot spiced wine, and for her help in transitioning to life in a new country.
And so this is #3 in our week of New Year’s Eve cocktails, a drink that warms you up inside and makes you feel like snuggling by a fire. We like our hot mulled wine spicy and not too sweet, so feel free to adjust the sugar to your taste. We prefer to use the whole cracked nutmeg because it’s easy to fish out of the wine before serving, but you could substitute ground nutmeg if you prefer, you’ll just have some bits left in the wine.
Hot Mulled Wine
- 3 to 4-quart pot with heavy bottom
- glass mugs
- 750 ml red wine (zinfandel or merlot)
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup demerara or turbinado sugar
- 3 whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 whole nutmeg (cracked open (or ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg))
- 1 orange (peeled in wide strips)
- 1 lemon (peeled in wide strips)
- 1 orange (thinly sliced)
- Combine the wine, water, sugar, cloves, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, and lemon and orange strips in the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 20 minutes, then serve hot in mugs with slices of orange.