Lately my wife and I have been out in nature rock hounding, spotting puff balls and watching the fall colors begin to show. After a strong storm we spent three and a half hours waist deep in Lake Superior hunting for agates. We exited the frigid waters with core temperatures lowered and movements that made us feel like hibernating. What would take the edge off our polar constitution?
Mulled wine was the answer. That warm spiced elixir would be the perfect thermo adjuster. Having just passed the North Shore Winery in Lutsen, I grabbed a bottle of their Boundary Waters Red – its mature and delicious flavor makes for a restorative base.
This recipe is gently infused with nutmeg, vanilla, star anise, mildly sweetened with honey and Rogotske’s maple syrup. The result is a brew you will want to sip all winter.
Heat cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg in a small skillet over low heat, stirring often, until toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Transfer spice mixture to a large saucepan over medium-low heat; stir in wine, orange peel, vanilla bean pods, maple syrup, and honey. Slowly bring wine mixture to just below a simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep until spices bloom and infuse into wine, about 30 minutes.
Return saucepan to medium-low heat; stir in applejack and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a large heatproof bowl. Ladle mulled wine into glasses. Enjoy.