Mulled Wine

Laced with pink pepper and fennel seeds, this sweet and fruity mulled wine offers a change of pace from the heavily spiced versions many of us are familiar with. For me, mulled wine is a potable celebration of my local flora, featuring clementines from my CSA box; fennel seeds and bay leaves I gathered on a coastal hike; and pink peppercorns from the tree next door. Depending on where you live, you might want to invent your own unique version of mulled wine, using ingredients like juniper berries, sage leaves, elderberries, maple syrup, local honey, or a splash of homemade liqueur. Feel free to use whatever looks good to you. (Note: Avoid pink peppercorns if you are allergic to cashews or tree nuts.)
By | December 29, 2015


6 mandarin oranges
2 dried California bay leaves or 4 dried Turkish bay leaves, folded in half down the center vein
2 (3-inch, or 7.5 cm) cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, lightly crushed
2⁄3 cup brown sugar (150 g) or honey (224 g), or to taste
2 bottles (750 ml, or 31⁄4 cups each) fruity red wine, divided

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the oranges in wide strips. Squeeze the juice from the oranges. Combine the orange peels and juice, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, fennel seeds, pink peppercorns, brown sugar, and 1 cup (235 ml) of the red wine in a large pot. Simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Stir in the remaining 51/2 cups (1265 ml) red wine. Gently simmer (but do not boil) until the mixture is warmed through. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Discard the solids. Serve warm.

Yield: About 6 1/2 cups (1500 ML)

Excerpted from Wild Drinks & Cocktails Handcrafted Squashes, Shrubs, Switchels, Tonics, and Infusions to Mix at Home by Emily Han (Fair Winds Press, 2015)


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