Friday, January 1, 2010

Uses for Cheap Wine #12 - Mulled Wine

Published Yesterday at

Picture it: December 2009. You are young, beautiful, wealthy and wise, and want to stay that way. You decide that wine’s the thing to maintain at least two out of four - not bad! You enter a fabulous wine shop - one of your city’s finest - on the hunt for a few good bottles. Your wine rack sits uncharacteristically empty at home, awaiting your fantastic finds.

In the shop, the first thing you see: Prosecco $6.99. You think to yourself “Grab a cart, dude, the pickins are plenty!” Six bottles later, you are lookin at an $8.00 Malbec, an $8.00 liter of Austrian Zweigelt, a $6.00 Torrontes and a Vin de Pays de Vaucluse for a crazy $4.99! Add two bottles of that cheap Prosecco, and you have a mixed 6 for a very smart $46.75!

Later on, while he’s putting the little one to bed, you decide on the Malbec and choose your most fabulous wine glass, thinking that just as they had made the $15.00 bottle of Nero d’Avola taste much more expensive, perhaps there’s hope for the $8.00 Malbec. You pull the synthetic cork (I cant’ stand those things!) and pour for you and a visiting friend.

You swirl. You sniff. The only descriptor either of you can muster is “grapes” for the smell of it, and then the fleeting fruit dissipates and all you smell is alcohol - a whopping 14% for that tail!! You both take a few sips while you catch up on family stories, but neither of you savors the wine, just looking to achieve a quick buzz while chatting

You have almost 2/3 of the bottle left the next morning, and you DON’T FEEL LIKE DRINKING IT ANYMORE - it was that bad.

What do you do?

To me, since the wine was in the condition it was supposed to be (it didn’t smell like basements or funky shoes, just bad wine) it is uneconomical to simply throw the wine down the drain. If it’s in a 750 ml glass bottle decently packaged, chances are it’s at least drinkable.

Uses for Cheap Wine #12 - Mulled Wine: Mulled wine is a warm version of sangria, in which the wine is heated up, usually sweetened and seasoned with whole baking spices such as clove, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks and star anise, and kept on a low heat so that each cup is warm. Often served at ski areas, it is a great way to warm yourself up inside on a cold day!


2/3 of a 750ml bottle of cheap dry red wine

2 Tablespoons Raw Sugar

3 Cinnamon Sticks, broken into small pieces

1 Whole Nutmeg, cracked and shaved to release flavor

1 Star Anise

1 Snowy Day (optional)


In a saucepan, put the wine on a high flame. Add the Sugar, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Star Anise into the wine. Add fresh, cold water to achieve a ratio of 1 part water to 2 parts wine. When the wine is just below boiling, lower the flame all the way down just to keep it warm, letting it steep for at least thirty minutes. Mulled Wine tastes better as the spices continue to release flavors into it and the sugar integrates.

Serve in Irish Coffee Mugs, garnish with a Cinnamon Stick. If it starts to reduce as it sits, add a little more water.

Serves 3-4

Next on Uses for Cheap Wine - #17 - Wine Rack Filler

Let no wine go to waste!

Happy New Year!


Vee Fitzgerald

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