Even though I hate being cold, I love the winter. I think this preference largely stems from my belief that it’s much easier to warm oneself than it is to cool off: you can have a piping hot cup of hot cocoa or the always popular (even in summer, at least for me!) hot toddy; there is also an abundance of blankets, flannel sheets, cozy fleece sweatshirts, slippers and snuggly socks just waiting for the opportunity to warm any poor, beleaguered soul. And, if worst comes to worst, there ought to be some heater you can find to sit in front of, which has long been a favorite pastime of mine. Back in high school, I would fall asleep with my homework (usually US government) in front of the heating vents; in college, I would keep my room extra toasty as I translated Russian texts and wrote about the metaphysical poetry of John Donne. And, in my former apartment, my studying for both my Ph.D. and Master’s Exams would often involve time in front of the heater, for either the purpose of drying my long hair or warming my perpetually ice-cold toes. I haven’t quite found my new “heating” rhythm in the Greek’s and my new apartment; there are no heating vents, just radiators. While it can be cozy to sit next to these, it’s just not the same as hot hair blowing out of a vent at high speed.
So, I’ve had to make do with other arrangements. One such arrangement has been experimenting a little with mulled wine. While this particular wine was made for the few departmental friends we had over on the last official day of the semester, I can already tell that it will become a warming tradition in our new home. Even though I really like red mulled wine, I loved the flavor of the mulled white wine. Maybe it was because of the lemon zest and apple juice; the fruity flavors were strong, but not dominant, lending a slightly tart and crisp flavor. The white wine and the ginger were clearly king and queen of the cup, which was just the right combination of sugar and spice. In short, the right companion for a chilly winter evening–even (and especially) one spent in a rocking chair next to the radiator!
Since mulling is a personal thing (some people like cloves and some don’t; some people like orange or lemon juice and others prefer to heat the rind for a citrusy flavor), the following recipe can be tweaked to your heart’s content. These are the ingredients that worked for us and, dare I say, led to a fabulously spicy, softly sweet and soothing winter drink. We got the recipe, thanks to the Greek’s language skills, from a German site; I’ve translated and converted them with both his help and Google Translate’s.
2 bottles white wine (1500 ml)
1 quart apple juice (950 ml)
2-3 lemons, zested and juiced
2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
2/3 cup orange liqueur (150 ml)
Directions according to the Greek:
-Eyeball your measurements, throw them all in a pot and heat them up.
Directions according to me (for the OCD in all of us):
-Add the wine, apple juice, lemon zest and juice, fresh and ground ginger and orange liqueur to a large pot.
-Turn the heat to medium and, in addition to stirring occasionally, monitor the temperature with a candy thermometer. It should be at about 160 F (70 C).
-Don’t let the mulled wine come to a boil; you want it to be hot–you don’t want to overdo the heat and compromise the flavors.