I wouldn't want to be accused of being stingy this holiday season so I thought I'd pass along a bit of information related to hot wine. I also want to give credit where credit is due, so I'll provide the recipe that served as the foundation for our experimentation, and I'll also state upfront that all of the ideas you read here came from my gifted wife— I'm just the messenger. Finally, I want all the kiddies to remember that, although some of the alcohol undoubtedly burns off through the heating process, this is still a drink for mommies and daddies.

There are as many recipes for mulled wine as there are names for this seasonal beverage: to the Germans its Gluhwein, to the French its called Vin Chaud, and to our Nordic friends its Glogg. Searching the net using the different names will yield different recipes. As my wife and I were introduced to this beverage by French friends one blisteringly cold night in Joshua Tree we started by searching for "Vin Chaud" and discovered this recipe from About.com.

Through a bit of trial and error we came up with the following modifications to the recipe:

WINE— The quality of the wine makes a difference so you should strive for something that is relatively inexpensive but not rotgut. We are partial to an Italian table wine called Antica Osteria that has been available at Whole Foods recently. Beaujolais tastes great too, but brought about acid reflux in the more sensitive stomachs.

COGNAC— No. No Cognac. See the "acid reflux" mentioned above.

VANILLA— The missing link to the Ms. Franklin's otherwise good recipe on About.com is vanilla extract. Give a small splash of vanilla to the mix and your wine will really sing. Well, not really sing, that's a figure of speech, but it makes it taste a whole lot better. On that ill-fated overnight at Joshua Tree our friends had insisted on vanilla for the wine and, for some reason, my wife managed to remember that all these years later. 

It goes without saying that your cinnamon shouldn't be so old that is was shipped by caravel. Also, you'll need to come up with a way to strain the wine so people aren't sucking down cardamon pods; after a few light burns I can recommend a wire strainer with hooks and a handle that allows it to rest over a small pot that is set on low heat to keep the vin chaud.

So dust off your mugs and get to the Glogg! Just remember, hot wine doesn't last as long as you'd suspect it too so plan on making more than would seem prudent.

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