Israeli winters are like an extended fall season in North America or Europe, often rainy, sometimes bright and cool, with only one or two cold and snowy days thrown in for good measure.

As a food lover, I’m constantly adjusting my menus according to seasonal availability as well as temperature. Winters are for soups, stews and heartwarming foods, while summers call for salads and grilled meats and fishes. On the drinks front, it’s icy cold, citrusy cocktails in the summer and warming red wine in the winter.

Anyone who has spent any time in my kitchen can vouch for my love of a good, full-bodied red wine. In many of my recipes, both sweet and savory, I rely on quality reds to add flavor and depth. But I’m also happy to re-purpose a bottle into a delicious spiced wine drink like sangria — sweetened and spiced — for the summer, and warm mulled wine to finish off a filling winter meal.

Mulled wine is easy to prepare, especially here, where spices, citrus and good wine abound. Don’t be afraid to play around with the spicing, using cardamom pods in lieu of nutmeg if you desire or lemon peel instead of orange. Find your perfect combination and enjoy this delicious delight while the weather still beckons for a winter warmer.

A bowl of mulled wine warms the heart (photo credit: Loyna/CC-BY-2.5)

A bowl of mulled wine warms the heart (photo credit: Loyna/CC-BY-2.5)

Mulled wine

  • 1 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon (moderately priced is fine)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 large orange
  • ¼ cup brandy
  1. Zest the orange into long, thin strips, taking care to leave the white pith behind.
  2. In a medium-sized pot, combine zest, spices and sugar, and pour enough wine just to cover, about one quarter of the bottle.
  3. Bring mixture to a rapid boil for about ten minutes.
  4. Mixture should thicken to a syrup. Add the juice of the orange and the rest of the wine to the pot. Slowly warm the mixture, being careful not to let it come to a boil, and burn off the alcohol.
  5. Add brandy just before serving.
  6. Serve in heatproof glass mugs with individual cinnamon sticks for garnish.