This year, I thought I'd re-create that moment by making my own mulled wine, and giving pre-made sachets filled with mulling spices as gifts. All of these spices should be easily gathered at your local grocery store. I ordered reusable muslin bags from Amazon. Prior to using the pouches, be sure to wash them (don't use a scented detergent or dryer sheet). Mine needed a bit of an ironing after being washed, too.
Making the mulling spice sachets is simple -- just add all your spices to your bag, and voila! To give as a gift, I'd recommend packaging the mulling spice sachet along with a bottle of red wine. I prefer to use an inexpensive table red, such as Cupcake Red Velvet. Tie the mulling spice pouch and a festive ribbon around the neck of the bottle, pop it in a bag, and boom! -- your gift-giving is done.
Mulling Spices (adapted from this Serious Eats recipe)
makes one spice sachet
1 cinnamon stick
8 allspice berries
3 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
4 cardamom pods, gently crushed
2 star anise petals
1/2 teaspoon granulated orange peel [optional]
makes about 3 cups
1 bottle red wine
1 mulling spice sachet
1/4 cup granulated or brown sugar (or maple syrup)
1 tablespoon brandy
1. Bring the wine to a simmer in a saucepot over medium heat.
2. Pour the wine into the bowl of a crockpot. Add the mulling spice sachet. Cover and simmer over low heat for 2 hours.
3. After 2 hours, sweeten with sugar and add the brandy. Simmer for another half-hour before serving.