"When tailgating in the early spring and the nights are still chilly, this delicious spicy, mulled wine cocktail will be just the trick to warm you up."
1 bottle of Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon
¼ cup honey or sugar, or more to taste
5–6 whole cloves
2–3 allspice berries
2–3 whole cardamom (options)
2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
Remove the zest from the orange and the lemon in thin strips. Set the strips of peel aside. Halve and juice the lemon and orange, and pour the juice into a stainless-steel saucepan. Add the wine and sweetener and half the strips of zest. Stir to combine. Lay out a sheet of cheesecloth on your counter, and place the whole cloves on it. Crush the allspice berries and whole cardamom (if you’re using them) with the flat of a knife, then add those and the cinnamon sticks to the cheesecloth. Fold up the corners and tie them with cotton kitchen twine to make a neat bundle. Place the spice bundle in the saucepan then heat the mixture over moderate heat until it comes to a gentle simmer. Steep the mixture for 15 to 20 minutes or until the spice flavors are well infused into the wine. Remove the spice bundle and discard it. Taste the wine and add more sweetener if necessary to balance the flavors. Serve the mulled wine immediately in heatproof mugs, garnished with the remaining strips of citrus zest. Alternatively, transfer it to a preheated slow cooker or thermal carafe for later enjoyment.
Tips: Feel free to experiment with alternative spice combinations. A few slices of fresh ginger, a piece of star anise, half a vanilla bean or a few flecks of freshly grated nutmeg can all be pleasant additions. If you’re experimenting, put the new spice into its own pouch so you can remove it separately from the rest if needed. Don’t leave the spices in your mulled wine because their flavors will gradually become harsh and over-extracted.