Fortnight of Fright: Mulled Wine Recipe by Shannon

 

Hi, friends! Today we have Shannon from The Champagne Was Excellent sharing an AMAZING mulled wine recipe…I cannot WAIT to make this! Take a look at what she has to offer and head over to Amy & Brittany’s blogs to see who they have featured today! Don’t forget, we are hosting wonderful bloggers & authors for two whole weeks with recipes, book recommendations and a lot more awesome!

 

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Hey y’all!

This is my very first guest post on a blog… I am so excited AND nervous!

First, a pre-apology for the way I had to edit the photos. Guess what’s really hard to get good lighting for? Red wine.

I’m not great with the scary/thriller/horror parts of the October season, but I AM great with the cozy/delicious/witchy/mysterious parts, so for this post, I’m going to give you one of my favourite recipes and some of my favourite books that feel like cold noses and red leaves and that deep breath you take the first time it SMELLS like fall… which is to say, they feel like coming home.

Lets get to it, shall we?

So, London is part of my DNA. London is a sentient being to me and it is entwined with my heart and soul.

Longest story EVER, shortened- When I lived in Oxford for a semester, there was a pub that I went to almost daily and it’s where I had my first mulled wine.

After I got back to the States, I kept trying to recreate the mulled wine and never could. When we went back a few years ago, I visited the pub and the family and my first sentence to the lovely owner was “HI I MISSED YOU SO MUCH PLEASE FOR THE LOVE TELL ME HOW TO MAKE YOUR MULLED WINE.”

And then I cried for a while because that pub saved my life and NOSTALGIA.

Mulled wine is amazing for any fall or winter party, but I also like to make a batch just for myself, so I can curl up on a cold night with a warm cup of wine and a cozy book.

Alright. Let’s wine.

There are actually two ways to make this and, true to fashion, I always choose the more ridiculous of the two because 1) I can’t seem to help myself and 2) sometimes I’m too lazy to remember that the crockpot exists. Oh, the irony.

Here’s what you need, for either one:

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  • 1 ½  bottles of red wine, separated.
  • ¼ cup of brandy or liqueur of choice
  • 2 ½ cups of orange juice
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 large orange, sliced
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • whole cloves (5 or 6)
  • nutmeg (heavy dash)
  • Cinnamon sticks/orange slices for garnish

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These are the two wines I used for this batch. I’ve found that red blends work best for this recipe.  Anything heavy, like merlots or cabernets, is overpowering. You need a more mild red for this.

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These are some reds I’ve used before and they worked well, too. Also, a good thing to remember is that sangria is when should you use something like Two Buck Chuck, not for mulled wine, because sangria is cold and the fruit and sugar kinda of cover up the wine. I’m not saying shell out the big bucks for mulled wine, but sticking with a tried favourite isn’t a bad idea, as the heat will bring out the natural wine flavor.

(Sidenote: drink that Apothic Crush while eating salted caramel chocolates and CHANGE YOUR ENTIRE LIFE FOREVER NBD.)

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These were my choices for the liquers. I’ve made it with all kinds of triple sec and brandy, but never with Disaronno. I alllllmost used it this time, but for the first batch of fall, I didn’t want to risk it. If you’re braver than me, tell me how it turned out! I used the last of my Grand Marnier instead.

My favourite to use for this recipe is Applejacks brandy, but I didn’t have any on hand and it was a game day and HELL no I do NOT go to liquor stores on game day in this town, no thank you. Don’t be like me. Plan ahead. Get you some Applejacks brandy for your mulled wine. You deserve it.

OPTION ONE:

  • The Crock Pot
  • Four-ish hours
  • (This is for those people remember to get ingredients before they NEED them and remember start making it a few hours before it’s needed…people who have their life together, basically)
  • I feel compelled to mention that the longer and slower you cook alcohol, the more the alcohol burns off. So, like… don’t cook it overnight or you may as well just serve sugared grape juice.

Step One:

All that junk? Thrown it in a crock pot. Stir it alllll up. Cook on low for 3 or 4 hours. Serve it in mugs (don’t break any fragile glassware with hot wine!) with some cinnamon stick and extra orange slices, if ya fancy. Brag to your friends that English pubs are the BEST.

Gah, that’s so easy, I’m about to feel bad for showing y’all what I do. Thanks a lot, Good-At-Life People.

OPTION TWO.

  • The stovetop
  • 20 mins
  • (This is one for the hot messes (hi!) or the people who need it for their Friday Night Dinners)

When I want mulled wine, I travel very quickly from “Oh hey, mulled wine sounds good” to “BRING ME THE WINEEEEEE.”

I would try and pretend to be a tiny bit sorry about that, but the winter season means holidays and birthdays and that means family and family means that Shannon needs wine immediately, feel me?

Let’s go.

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(It’s best if you have everything out, open, and measured before you start.)

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Step One:

On medium high heat in a good-sized saucepan, mix the brown sugar, spices, cloves, and orange juice. Stir until thoroughly mixed and beginning to heat up, or the sugar is dissolved. (I use 10-12 cloves in mine, but I like this SUPER clove-y. Feel free to use more if you do, too.)

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***Secret Step 1.5– I added some honey to this batch! I don’t always, but my throat has been scratchy with allergies and cold fronts, so really, when you think about it, this mulled wine was MEDICINAL. About a heaping tablespoonful, if you want.

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Step Two:

Once the orange juice mixture is starting to heat up, add in the half bottle of wine, and when the liquids are thoroughly mixed, add the orange slices.*

*I know the pictures show my orange slices in the pot the wrong order. I had to take them out because the spices wouldn’t MIX for sticking to the oranges! Don’t be like me and my rogue orange slices. Make better choices.

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Why yes, that IS my Raven Cycle mug with my favourite quote on it!

Isn’t it lovely?

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Step Three:

Continue cooking the mixture on medium high until juuuuuust before the boiling point, stirring constantly.  (5-7 minutes)

(This is where you want to be super watchful- heating this mixture AT the boiling point for too long will result in a thicker, syrupy final product. No one wants that. That’s nasty.)

Step Four:

When the mixture is heated all the way through and is JUST beginning to bubble, turn off the burner and take it off the heat entirely.

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Step Five:

You turned off the burner right? Double check. Because you’re about to add the damn liquer and for Pete’s sake the burner does not need that kind of drama in its life, it just got its eyebrows done.

It’s off? Okay.

Add the liqueur and the full bottle of wine and stir until mixed.

Step Six:

Put the lid on the pot and let the wine sit for a bit on it’s own with no heat.

It needs to get comfy and the flavours need to meld, untouched, for about ten minutes.

It needs to think about its life choices and where the hell it all went so amazing that it ended up as AWESOME MULLED WINE.

It needs to pretend we all made our to-do list correctly and that it’s been in the crockpot this whole effing time with no judgment, okay???

Step Seven:

Breath in. Your kitchen smells amazing and exactly like an English pub in winter, which is an olfactory memory that makes this black-hearted Slytherin’s breath catch.

Step Eight:

Serve in mugs or pretty goblets with thick glass and fancy garnishes because life is more fun with fancy garnishes.

Remember, no fragile wine glasses!

Store in an airtight container in the fridge, heating as needed.

The Books:  

Between October and January in my families, there are 17 celebrations with presents. (I. know.) A few years ago, I decided to take my bookish heart ALL THE WAY and now we only buy books for presents. This means most of my August and September are spent prereading book choices for the kiddos OR, my favourite, rereading old childhood bests of my own.

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I feel like Harry Potter could be on every single autumnal book list, but I had to include it. My love for The Raven Cycle is well documented, obviously, because it feels like the goosebumps you get when your favourite song comes on. The Thief is just ACHINGLY good and I FINALLY get to reread that entire series because book five was just announced!!

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The Cat Who books! Did anyone else read these? I read my copies thin when I was little, but it’s been so long. I reread the first three this year and it was so fun! The Siamese cat helps a reporter solve crimes and my reread just reminded me how much I longed for KoKo to come out of the pages and be MY pet. If I called these books perfect snack-sized mysteries for October, would you get me? Because they are.

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Last, I cannot WAIT to read Furthermore. I think my artist nephew might love it!

Tell me your favourite cozy October reads and the books that always feel like coming home!

I’m terrible at endings. Alyssa says to say “bye bitches” sooooo

Bye, bitches. Enjoy the wine.

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