It was Saint Nicholas Day this week and what better way to celebrate this holiday season than by a glass of wine. I love red wine and even more, I love mulled wine at Christmas. Spicy, delicious smells, the warmth in your hand. Yum. The recipe is not difficult and you can adopt your favorite spices to the sugar base. One thing I would say is that the sweetener is critical. Sometimes I don't want to have the extra sugar and omit that ingredient and that is a big mistake. Your lips will pucker together and clearly, it's not what you expected. Whether you use honey or maple syrup instead of white sugar - don't omit adding something sweet.
When I grew up, we celebrated Saint Nicholas Day (as my mother is German) by putting our slippers outside our bedroom door and hoped we might have some sort of treat in our shoes in the morning (and not a bunch of sticks). It's not a tradition I have carried over into my family but I very clearly remembering as a child, it being the beginning of the holidays. Today the holidays begin so early and there are many other influences that we have to get us in the spirit!
This recipe is lovely to share with friends and family and it's easy to have on hand and make in advance.
2 tangerines or clementines thinly sliced
1 lemon thinly sliced
1 cup sugar
6 whole allspice
3 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 vanilla bean halved
2 bottles of red wine
1/4 bottle of Port wine (optional)
In a large pot add the sugar and either 1 cup water or about 1/4 bottle of wine. Add the fruit and spices. Bring this mixture to a boil and let it boil for about 5 minutes until it is fragrant and thick. Then add the wine and port and heat very slowly. Don’t let it simmer. If you wish, make this the night before to allow the flavours to come together. I usually make the syrup mixture, add the fresh wine and port and turn the heat off. Then the next day, bring everything to a low heat and keep it on low for at least an hour. The house smells nice too.