Nothing brings to life the holiday season for me like the smells of delicious things cooking and simmering. One of our family favorites is Mulled Wine, redolent of orange, apple, star anise, cinnamon, and clove. I made and bottled a big batch of it this year to send out to distant family and friends, from our humble villa to theirs. While the original recipe mixes red wine with fresh apple cider, orange juice, orange peel, and cinnamon ‘red hot’ candies, I’ve learned to harvest the flavors without harvesting all the added carbs. So here, in time for the holiday, is the lower-carb version of our Mulled Holiday Wine.
We wish you all a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, a Joyous Winter Solstice, a Happy Kwanza, and a healthy, bright and prosperous New Year!
Mulled Holiday Wine
Makes about 2 quarts (1.5 liters)
4 oranges, 2 for juice and zest and 2 to slice for garnish (see step 2)
1 (750 ml) bottle full-bodied red wine
2 (16 ounce) cans Strongbow Hard Apple Cider
4 star anise pods
1 teaspoon whole cloves (plus more to stud the garnishing orange slices)
4 cinnamon sticks
6 packets Stevia (or Truvia or your preferred non-caloric sweetener) or more to your liking
1. With a vegetable peeler, remove the zest of two of the oranges in strips and juice those oranges. Discard pulp and pith.
2. Put orange zest and juice and all remaining ingredients, except garnish, into a soup pot, bring to a simmer over medium low heat, and let the flavors infuse for about 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, stud the two garnishing oranges with bands of clove and then slice so that you have clove-studded slices (easier to do on the whole orange than on the slices IMHO).
4. When the wine is well-infused, strain–to remove the solids–into a serving bowl to keep warm.
5. Float the studded slices on the mulled wine bowl (or put one atop each cup of wine).