It may still feel like summer at Ponte, but back east where I live, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. The leaves on my backyard trees are gone, the radiators are on and the air is cold. Here it is, the beginning of November, and I have a crazy itch to put up my Christmas decorations. It doesn’t help that every retailer known to man has had theirs up for weeks. But, whenever I bring it up to my husband he says, “After Thanksgiving, honey.” So, alas, I wait.
Still, I need something to scratch this Christmas itch. I think I’ve found the perfect solution in mulled wine.
Mulled wine is basically red wine warmed with spices. Traditional spices used are cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. It’s usually enjoyed during the holiday season and sometimes around Halloween. Mulled wine can be found worldwide and it varies in every country. In Scandanavia, there’s Glogg where they add cardamom, ginger and bitter orange. In France, it’s vin chaud and they add lemon. In Bulgaria, it’s greyano vino and they add peppercorns. In South Brazil, it’s vinho quente, and they add cachaça. In Romania, it’s vin fiert and they add apples. And on, and on.
Fortunately, I had a can of Williams-Sonoma mulling spices in my cupboard. I’ve only ever used it to make mulled cider, but it can be used for wine just the same. A ton of recipes can be found on the internet for mulled wine made from scratch, so a can of spices such as mine are not at all necessary. Williams-Sonoma makes theirs with cinnamon, cloves, allspice berries and orange rind. To make it, I simmered 4 cups of red wine (whatever kind you like; I used Cabernet Sauvignon), 1/3 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons of the mulling spices for about 20 minutes. I removed the spices and served. You can serve mulled wine in wine glasses, Irish coffee glasses, even coffee mugs, and you can garnish with all kinds of things, such as cinnamon sticks, orange or lemon wheels, apple slices, even mini candy canes. And for you Californians who are still battling the heat, there is an option for you, too: Just chill the finished wine and serve over ice.
Truth be told, I’d still like to put up my tree, lights, and Christmas village, but at least now when I don’t think I can wait any longer, I know I can take the edge off with a glass of this delicious, spicy wine. As I write this, there are only 11 days left until the day after Thanksgiving. But who’s counting, anyway?
Looking for a warm, cozy place to enjoy the holidays this year? Try Ponte Vineyard Inn and enjoy the holidays (food, drink, laughter!) in wine country.
–When do you put up your Christmas decorations?