The inspiration for the spiced wine is thanks to Il Spazio and Krista. The restaurant/brewery opened up in Kirksville, Mo., sometime around my junior year of college. And on several occasions, my roommate Krista would come home raving about "fuerte" beer, but the best by far was the seasonal hot spiced wine. Kirksville was in a part of Missouri that is the recipient of a lot of wind and our apartment that year was effing freezing (we paid $500 one month for gas and we weren't even warm), so hot spiced wine seemed like the only respite in a long, dark and very cold winter.
This past December seems like ages ago now that it's 70 degrees outside, but dang it was cold and I was determined to make this hot mulled wine. I borrowed my mom's giant crockpot and blew like $150 on food an accoutrements--even though I bought the cheapest wine that Wohlner's stocks. That was a mistake first of all because the wine was (obviously) not that great, and secondly because as I was bringing the groceries up to my apartment I bumped the sack on the stairs and one of the wine bottles crunched into a million pieces with red wine dripping all down the stairs. Thankfully this happened outside.
Things turned out all right in the end. I was right in thinking even bad wine could be improved with sugar, amaretto and apple cider. And even though the counter was covered in sticky grime from spilled "punch," the wine was gone and someone asked for the recipe. So here it is. The only thing I would change would be buying nicer wine--but not too nice. (Jesse, perhaps you can make a recommendation here?)
Hot Spiced Wine: 2 750-milliliter bottles of red wine (Burgundy is usually recommended) 1 cup amaretto liqueur (brandy would be a good choice here, I just happen to be the sort of person that has amaretto hanging around the house) a lot of apple cider (if you're actually measuring I would guess it to be about 5 cups) 1 cup granulated sugar 1 tablespoon mulling spices (these include black peppercorns, orange peel, cloves, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, star anise and allspice--I saved about $100 by buying them in a container labled "mulling spices") In a crockpot on high heat, pour wine, amaretto and cider. Dump in the sugar. Stir until sugar is mostly dissolved. Place whole mulling spices into a cheesecloth or one of those metal tea balls. Allow 30 minutes for wine to heat up. Turn crockpot down to medium and serve. If you're fancy, garnish with whole cinnamon sticks.