Unwined: Mull It Over, Baby
With winter in our midst, one thing I look forward to is sipping some mulled wine on a cold day. If you have never had mulled wine, it’s basically just warm wine spiced with the flavours you would typically find in Christmas baking: allspice and nutmeg, orange, anise, and just enough added sweetness to pull the beverage together.
If you’re feeling completely lazy but still want to try this drink at home, you can pick up Warm’N Cozy mulled wine from Lake Erie North Shore winery Sprucewood Shores (Warm’N Cozy Mulled Wine LCBO 348524 – $11.95). Pre-spiced, all you need to do is dump the bottle into a pot on your stovetop, heat to your desired temperature and serve. Your estimated LCBO to glass time is easily less than 60 minutes, and the wine is decent to boot.
If you’re feeling a little bit more ambitious you can make your own mulled wine. While slightly more time-consuming (if you include the trip to the Bulk Barn and LCBO), you don’t need to spend a lot of money to make this at home. But be warned: if you buy truly crappy wine your final product will taste … truly crappy. In other words, make sure you’re using a base wine that you would drink on its own. A couple of suggestions: Generation Seven Red from Château des Charmes (LCBO 198036 – $11.95) or the Pelee Island Cabernet Franc (LCBO 433714 – $11.95). Medium bodied, fruity wines are best for this recipe.
Speaking of recipes, here’s our favourite:
2 Bottles of Wine (you could cut this recipe in half … but why?)
1/4 cup honey
6 whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
2 oranges sliced
4 star anise
Bring all these ingredients to a boil on your stovetop and then reduce the heat to a simmer. You can serve this after 20 minutes on the stove, but the longer you let it simmer the more flavour you will get from the spices.
Changing topics, here are some great wines to try right now that you probably shouldn’t mull.
2013 Reif Estate Reserve Gewurztraminer – Vintages 360255 – $18.95 – ***1/2+ – This wine is definitely defined by its texture: it’s almost oily and grips the tongue. Gewürztraminer is one of my favourite grapes grown in Ontario, it is also something that the local wineries have taken real ownership of with their own styles. It’s not quite German or French but definitely local. The nose is rose petal, with ginger and the flavours match. Mixed in with the floral notes on the wine you have nice tropical fruit. This wine is dry, with just a hint of sweetness on the finish. A perfect match to spicy asian cuisine.
2014 Trius Gamay Noir – $19.95 – ****+ – Available in winery and wine shop locations only – There is a lot going on in this bottle but I hesitate to use the word complex, because a wine like this isn’t meant to be “sophisticated.” And that’s okay! It’s medium bodied and fruity, with just the right amount of tannin on the finish. If you decided to age this wine for five to seven years you totally could but aging isn’t necessary. The fruit is cherry, with slight peppery notes on the finish, and with just a bit of this funk on the nose that I couldn’t quite put my finger on—all I know is I wanted to taste it. This would pair well with red meat, salmon, pork dishes, most chicken dishes—almost everything except the lightest salads or seafood dishes.
2007 Union Forté – Vintages 361758 – $16.95 – ****+ – It’s been a while since I first tasted this wine in 2013, and it’s just as good as I remember. Spicy, nutty, and fruity, this wine is quite light on the palate despite being a port. Note that this wine is very underpriced and would make a great match to roast duck, or just on its own, and should be a staple around your house for the holidays.
2011 Hidden Bench Terroir Caché Meritage – Vintages 505610 – $38.20 – ****+ – Elegance captured in a bottle. The nose is very ripe, red fruit, with a little bit of cedar. Even though everything in this wine has a feeling of delicacy there is a lot going on in the glass. Raspberry, plum, currant, cedar, and hints of roasted herb lay themselves out and then finish with nice acidity. The tannin is still tight and this wine is still very young. This will age very gracefully over the next five to 10 years.
2012 Stratus White – Vintages 660704 – $44.20 – ***** – I had a chance to taste this wine in February this year at Cuvée and it was fantastic then. It has since mellowed down in bottle and the rough edges have smoothed themselves out. This is as close to perfection as I have tasted this year, seamlessly crafted to show you vanilla and toasty oak on the nose layered over peach, pear and apple, with hints of spice. The flavours match the nose, with a finish so long I can only describe it as epic. Your mouth will be filled with a cacophony of fruit with tropical flavours like passion and pineapple mingling in with the orchard fruit you find on the nose. I know this wine is a little pricey for a non-conventional blend of white varietals but trust me, this is well worth the price.