On frosty winter nights, there’s nothing quite like cozying up by the fire with a cup of piping hot mulled wine. It’s holiday cheer in a glass, and just one sip will make you feel like a character in a Dickens novel. I usually use two bottles of wine because one never seems enough, but this recipe can be halved or doubled depending on the size of your crowd. Fair warning: I usually hit my limit after two glasses of regular wine, but this stuff is so warm and comforting you might forget how many you've had. Serve with a snuggly blanket and your favorite version of A Christmas Carol.
Note: When I can’t find cardamom pods or I don't have fresh ginger root on hand, I use ground cardamom seeds or ground ginger instead. I’m not sure if this is technically OK, but it seems to work just fine.
2 bottles inexpensive red wine (such as Bordeaux or Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick, plus more for garnish (if desired)
4 cardamom pods
3-4 slices fresh ginger, about 1/8" thick
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup Cognac
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the lemon and oranges in wide strips, avoiding the white pith. Reserve the peels of one orange for garnish. Combine the wine, spices, ginger, lemon peels, and remaining orange peels in a large saucepan over medium-low heat and bring to a simmer. Add the honey 1/4 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until dissolved and tasting to determine if more sweetness is needed. Depending on the wine you use, you may not need to add all 3/4 cup. Allow the mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and add the Cognac. Serve warm with your desired garnishes.