The Grape Girls Mull It

Posted on December 25, 2014

Yeah. You might need to “mull” something over. You may also rock a “mull” et. But for The Grape Girls, the best way to make it “mull” is in a glass with a few spices and a whole lotta fun.

MULL

 verb
to heat, sweeten, and flavor (as wine or cider) with spices 
Some of the earliest records of spicing wine date back to the Egyptian era when the practice of putting herbs (coriander, sage, pine resin) in wine was used solely for medicinal purposes. However, it was in the 1st and 2nd centuries that the Romans took the practice to yummy, luxurious lengths by adding cardamom, cinnamon, saffron, ginger, and honey.
In our times, we can credit the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, for making mulled wine a holiday staple:

“A merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you, for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob!”

– Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (1843)

What Scrooge calls a “Smoking Bishop” is none other than an earlier version of our mulled concoction. In this “Smoking Bishop”, the key ingredient is not only spices, wine, and oranges, but also port.
We, The Grape Girls, wanted to do our part by investigating just how one makes this legendary spiced treat, and with the help of a recipe from The Food Network’s “Barefoot Contessa”, Ina Garten (www.thefoodnetwork.com), we were able to do just that.
IngredientsFullSizeRender
4 cups apple cider
1 (750-ml) bottle red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1/4 cup honey
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, zested and juiced
4 whole cloves
*3 star anise (a star-shaped seed native to China that lends itself to adding a licorice flavor to savory dishes)
4 oranges, peeled, for garnish
Directions
Combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves and star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs, add an orange peel to each and serve.
*The Grape Girls scrapped the Star Anise because we didn’t know what it was when we started our adventure.
Spoiler Alert: Our cocktail was still DELICIOUS. Take THAT Star Anise.

Star Anise or no, nothing says “warm winter pick-me-up” like this glass of toasty goodness. Though it has transformed from the purely medicinal tonic of yesteryear, it’s still good for what ails ya.

Special thanks to Ina Garten and The Food Network for this most wonderful experience.
#TipItAndSipIt y’all
xo Lo & Tee
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