- 3 cinnamon sticks, 3 inches each
- 10 whole cloves
- 10 black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon (about 25) allspice berries
- 2 bottles medium- or full-bodied red wine, such as Cabernet, Pinot Noir, or Zinfandel
- 4 strips zest from 1 orange, removed with vegetable peeler, each strip about 2 inches long by 1/2 inch wide, cleaned of any white pith
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 to 4 tablespoons brandy
1. Toast cinnamon sticks, cloves, peppercorns, and allspice in medium heavy-bottomed nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add wine, orange zest, and 1/2 cup sugar; cover partially and bring to simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer 1 hour until wine is infused; do not boil.
2. Strain wine through fine-mesh strainer; return wine to saucepan and discard spices and orange zest. Stir 2 tablespoons brandy into wine; taste and add up to 2 tablespoons more sugar and 2 tablespoons more brandy, if desired. Ladle wine into small mugs; serve immediately.
The flavor of the mulled wine deteriorates if it is simmered for longer than one hour. It is best served immediately after mulling but will keep fairly hot off the heat, covered, for about 30 minutes. Leftover mulled wine can be reheated in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stovetop.
from Cooks Illustrated
Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 quarts (8 servings)