The first documented consumption of mulled wine dates as far back as ancient Egypt, when spiced wine was used for medicinal purposes and considered to be an elixir of the afterlife. Typically made with red wine, this robust drink is now a favorite during the holiday season and into the colder months. Considering our mild temperatures, I’ve brightened up this classic concoction by switching out the red wine for a lighter white wine. Notes of citrus, ginger, and vanilla also serve to warm and uplift. Finally, the crimson pomegranate seeds add a burst of familiar holiday flavor to this delightful sipper.
Ingredients (makes about 1 quart)
3 whole cloves
Zest from 1 small lemon
1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise and seeds scraped out
1 750-ml bottle medium-bodied dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh pineapple juice
1/4 cup elderflower liqueur
Extra lemon twists and pomegranate seeds for garnish
Stick the cloves into the strips of lemon zest. In a medium-size, nonreactive saucepan, combine the ginger, vanilla bean (both the pod and seeds), and about 2/3 of the lemon zest strips, including the clove-studded pieces, and cover partially. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally until fragrant and thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and pineapple juice, cover partially, and simmer until the wine is infused, at least an hour (do not allow to boil). Remove from heat and discard the ginger, vanilla bean, cloves, and lemon peel. Add the elderflower liqueur. Stir well and serve in a heat-tempered wineglass or glass mug, garnished with lemon twists and pomegranate seeds.