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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mandarin Spice Mulled Wine

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gallo Family Vineyards in conjunction with Sunday Supper. All opinions are my own.
Mandarin Spice Mulled Wine |
Growing up, family holiday get-togethers meant three generations cozied into my grandparents' house. Coats jammed into the coat closet. Boots and shoes lined up by the doors. Women congregating in the kitchen, men congregating in front of a football game, kids running from the pool table to the play room or playing hide-and-seek; each person in their stocking-feet.

Warmth enveloped you at every turn. Magical scents wafting from the oven. A crockpot in the corner with spiced steam escaping. A candle on the corner table scented for the season. As a kid, I really looked forward to the familiarity and tradition that this time of year invoked.

As an adult, I still look forward to it, but it's not quite the same. We now have four generations running around. My grandparents are now in their mid to late 80's; it's not as easy for them to host everybody any more. And unfortunately, none of us have the same fantastic home that they have. A home large enough for everybody to fit. Comfortably.

Mandarin Spice Mulled Wine |
We do still meet there from time to time, but considering that and the fact that all of us grandkids are now parents (save one), we have other considerations and obligations. We may be spending a holiday with "the other side" of the family. We may have kid's activities that don't allow us to make it one year. Times have changed, but memories of holidays past remain.

Fortunately, tradition can be carried with us, no matter where we happen to be. I hope that when my kids look back, the thing that they remember most about the holiday season is warmth enveloping them at every turn. I hope that magical scents wafting from the oven make them smile. I hope that the steam escaping from a crockpot on the counter comforts them. I hope that a sugar cookie scented candle makes them feel safe.
Mandarin Spice Mulled Wine |
About that crockpot in the corner and its intoxicating spicy smell - it was mulled wine. When I was young, I didn't really give it a second thought. The grown-ups would wander over from time to time; fill their mugs with the steaming liquid. I knew what it was, but back then, the thought of wine didn't turn me on. We had our own steaming pot, and it contained something even better - hot chocolate.

But now that I'm the adult, I get it. After handing the kids their steaming mugs of rich chocolate, I love turning around and picking up my own steaming mug of mulled wine. This version uses white wine, a sweet and lightly citrusy Gallo Family Vineyards Moscato, and is infused with warming spices and the flavor of mandarin oranges. It's perfect for warming up the adults who have trudged through the snow and freezing temps, towing kids, gifts, and potluck dishes during the holiday season.

Mandarin Spice Mulled Wine
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Mandarin Spice Mulled Wine |

by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Keywords: beverage dairy-free nut-free soy-free vegan Christmas New Year Thanksgiving American German fall winter

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle Gallo Family Vineyard Moscato
  • 1/4 cup Brandy
  • 2 mandarin oranges
  • 4 Mandarin Spice Herbal Tea bags
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • a few allspice berries
  • a few whole cloves
  • fresh nutmeg*
Cut the mandarin oranges in half and squeeze the juice into a small pot, then drop the "squeezed" halves right in. Add everything else to the pot. Set over medium heat until you see tiny bubbles form around the edges. Turn heat to low and let the mixture steam for 20 minutes.

Ladle into mugs and serve (leaving spices and solids in the pot). You can also strain the mixture into a slow cooker (set to warm) to hold it if you're not serving all at once.

*I always have a bunch of little nubs of nutmeg in my nutmeg jar, left over from grating the whole nutmeg.  I just added a few of the little nubs to the pot.  If you don't have any "nutmeg nubs", just grate some fresh nutmeg right into the pot.

This could be made by putting everything into the crock of a slow cooker and setting on low for 4 hours, then holding on warm.

I used a white Moscato, but it turned pink/red due to the hibiscus in the tea bags. If you want to keep it white(-ish), you can skip the tea bags (or look for ones without hibiscus), and double-up on the spices and mandarin oranges.
Mandarin Spice Mulled Wine |