Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Of Wine and Snowmen

It’s been a very white winter here in the northeast. My house sits on the side of a hill which has been covered with a very pretty blanket of snow for at least six weeks. This comes to mind because last night I met Bob Eckstein, author of the funny and surprisingly educational book, The History of the Snowman. Today I visited Bob’s website and started thinking of what the perfect drink would be to warm up after carousing in the cold. And then, it hit me: mulled wine. This old drink was popular in the middle ages and is still enjoyed in places like Germany, where it is referred to as Glühwein. It’s pretty simple: red wine is warmed, then spices are added, and sometimes sweetening agents such as juice or sugar. I have used packets of mulled wine mix that come with a little metal strainer. You simply dip the spice-filled strainer into a pot of red wine and simmer away. There are also many easy recipes online, such as this one from Cooks.com:
1 1/2 c. boiling water
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 lemon, sliced
3 sticks cinnamon
3 whole cloves
1 lg. bottle red wine
Combine boiling water, sugar, lemon, cinnamon and cloves; stir until sugar dissolves. Add wine; simmer 20 minutes. (DO NOT BOIL!) Strain. Serve hot with a sprinkling of nutmeg. Makes 12 servings, 3 ounce size

In addition to being a unique cold weather treat, mulled wine has the added benefit of being terrific with cheap wine that you might not otherwise wish to drink. So, go ahead, build a snowman, catch snowflakes on your tongue, whip out some snowangels, and nail a loved one with a well-aimed snowball. Snow brings out the child in all of us, but once you come in, warm up with an adults-only treat--and leave the cocoa to the kids.

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