Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mulled Wine Day!

Recently on one of my Yahoo Groups we were discussing what one does to get ready for spring.  I was unwilling (or maybe I should say unable) to take myself out of winter.  It was snowing at the time….
That coupled with the fact the Food Network was showing programs featuring “comfort food” and I was more about the snuggle up and enjoy the cold frame of mind than lets think about spring. 
That’s when I discovered that March 3 is National Mulled Wine Day.  Now I have a reason to snuggle up on the couch with a little mulled wine and celebrate that winter is not yet finished.
Mulled wine is mentioned in Fletcher's The Loyal Subject in 1618, but the first published recipe does not appear until 1769, in The Experienced English Housekeeper, by Mrs. Raffald.  Mrs. Raffald began her career as housekeeper in a large country-house, then went on to operate a confectioner's shop, catering business, and a cooking school for young ladies, where she wrote one of the most popular cookbooks of her day.
I make three of four different mulling spice blends at the Backyard Patch.  They can be used with cider, wine or grape juice.  Each has a different formulation but basically they have cinnamon, star anise and some citrus.  To make a Mulled Wine, all you need is your selection of mulling spices either loose or in a bag or infuser, some red or white wine of your choice (dry wines tend to work best) and a pan to simmer them together for 15 to 30 minutes. 
Here is a recipe you can try (I adapted it from Ina Garten of the Food Network):
  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 star anise
  • 3 fresh sprigs of lemon balm or 1 Tbls. dried crumbled leaves
Combine all the items in a saucepan and simmer on medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes.  Serve decorated with a cinnamon stick or sprig for herbs.  Makes 4 to 6 servings.

And Happy Mulled Wine Day!

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