Mulled Wine (or Mulled Cider)

October in the Napa Valley is surreal. The weather is absolutely perfect, the leaves start turning color and it is the height of a season we call CRUSH. Crush usually starts in the end of August and lasts through the middle of October. Wineries have harvest celebrations that last until the early morning, some of them involving age old rituals and blood filled bull horns... but we won'tget into all of that. The valley is teeming with people, tourists, migrant field workers and us locals.
The air is intoxicating, literally. In the morning when you walk outside it smells like you are neck deep in Cabernet Sauvignon and it is AMAZING.
My house smells like that now. Your house could smell like this too; like an October morning in the Napa Valley. Here is how…
Cinnamon Sticks
Star Anise
½ Cup Sugar
1 Orange, Zested and Sliced
1 Inch of Fresh Ginger Sliced
2 Bottles Red Wine or Port

Gather up your spices and slightly crush them. I used about a tablespoon of each and two whole nutmeg.
Zest and Slice an orange. Slice a little fresh ginger.
Pour 2 bottles of red wine, preferably named after one of your favorite people, just to make it extra special. Please feel free to replace the wine with the equivalent of apple cider if you prefer mulled cider.
Turn the heat on low. Add the orange slices, zest, ginger, spices and sugar. Mix just a little and bring to a simmer. Do not let it boil.
Strain out the spices, serve warm and often.
If you would like to give mulling spice as a gift to someone, dry the zest from two oranges and use crystallized ginger in place of fresh.
It makes a completely sweet and seasonal gift with a bottle of wine.


  1. Cabernet Sauvignon smell in the morning? I would love that! Thank you for this recipe. I would use the finest wine I could find just to achieve that scent in the morning!

  2. Rhiana, thank you for sharing this! I loved the smell of it! My husband did this for our honeymoon, when we checked in at the Gansett Green Manor. He knew how much I love the smell of Cabernet Sauvignon, so before I entered the room, he prepared this and surprised me. The smell is so addicting!

  3. We’ll definitely include Mulled wine in our list for our private party to be held in our garden this coming weekend! I can already imagine how our party would be great, with this drink and a perfect garden setting; our party will be an awesome one!