The holidays were a welcome and energizing break. Friends from college, high school and even childhood rejoined to reminisce about the old and celebrate the new. They came in from Mississippi, DC, Scotland and even Argentina with unique stories that pointed to a lack of color for this guy. 

Pertinent to our interests, fellow wine-drinkers, is a fascinating wine beverage that seemed, at first, uncouth. This one came to me from the friend currently residing in Scotland (not exactly vineyard country), and she called it “mulled wine.” 

Mulled means two things to me: spices and heat, neither of which I like to mix with my red wine. Tannins and spices at 59 degrees Fahrenheit give me all the enjoyment I need in my wine endeavors, but the reviews were rave, so I decided to hear her out. 

Mulled wine is a European invention—kind of a Continental approach to sangria. The basic premise is a sturdy red wine simmered with brandy, orange slices, and some spices like anise, clove and cinnamon. It’s festive, warm and sweet, and the dryness of the wine subsides as the alcohol (gasp!) evaporates during the cooking process. 

The result is something I can’t hate—the complexity of red wine doubled-over with some intensified spicy notes that I look for already in a great cabernet or pinot noir. 

You can work a different flavor profile with different varietals of red to find your sweet spot with mulled wine, but it’s definitely a nice addition to your wine beverage offerings this winter. 

So I challenge you, Malibu, to suspend your disbelief and indulge. Here are some recipes to get you started: 

Gimme Some Oven 

Williams-Sonoma (this basically makes it California-ready, right?) 

And, if you should endeavor: Ina Garten