‘Tis the season to be cozy. Toes wiggle in fleece slippers. Fuzzy blankets are places of refuge. Knobby wool scarves become more than a fashion statement.
While we’re donning our mittens, dusting off our Uggs, and debating the merit of earmuffs, let’s wrap our frosty fingers around a steamy, winter-spiced mug of mulled wine.
Mulled wine (hot spiced wine or vin chaud) is a French winter staple. To the unfamiliar (or to the wine snob), the idea of heating wine and infusing it with citrus and spices may seem odd, but this beverage can blunt the bite of even the sharpest winter winds.
Mulled wine is the essence of cozy: the oversized high school sweatshirt with which you refuse to part; your grandma’s homemade pot roast; crackling fires; rocking chairs.
It is a winter evening with friends, spent watching the windows fog and eating too many cookies. It’s outdoor Christmas markets selling hot roasted almonds. It’s cinnamon and oranges and cloves. It’s telling myself I’m going to be productive, then retreating to my couch with contentment instead.
Save your fancy wine for another night. In fact, use the cheapest red you have. Or use white, if that is what you prefer. The gentle addition of winter spices, fresh orange, and apple cider imparts magic on even the most “affordable” of bottles. I have made countless batches of this mulled wine over the years, each with a $4 bottle of Trader Joe’s Cabernet Sauvignon. A single drop has yet to be leftover.
Don’t let the season pass without preparing a batch of mulled wine. Whether you serve a small gathering of friends, a smashing holiday party, or a quiet evening alone, you will not regret a sip. I’ve spent years tweaking the recipe (a grueling task, I know), and the final result deserves a place of honor, right beside that high school sweatshirt.
Let Old Man Winter blast his chilly rage. I have my cozy in a cup.