Content for 21+ This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Line 39 Wine.
November is almost over, and that means that the holiday season is here. Ever since I was little, this has been my absolute favorite time of year. I don’t get nostalgic for much (or at all, really) but the awesomeness of the time around Thanksgiving and Christmas is an absolute obsession. I’m sure my reason for why is more or less the same as anyone else that feels the way I do: my mother. There was just something about the end of the year holidays that brought out something really special in my mom. While she did an excellent job of creating a great home for my brother and me no matter what time of year it was, sometime around the middle of November, there was a sudden flurry of extra comfortable and familiar. There was the shepherd’s pie and pot roast dinners, her famous pumpkin rolls, and peanut butter blossoms, a house full of her collection of Santas, and hot drinks ready when we’d come in from playing in the snow.
Now, as you probably know, I’ve been living in LA for 15 years, where there are a few key things missing that used to give me that sentimental feeling—Christmassy weather and being surrounded by small Santas, for example. Of course, I’m never going to let go of my love for the holidays, so, over the years I’ve been carefully curating a new set of ways to celebrate that help me feel that magic again. There are the obligatory decorations and I start watching holiday-themed movies WAYYY early (not sorry), but the big thing for me has really come down to the food. No, I’ll never be able to make my mom’s signature pumpkin rolls, epic shepherd’s pie or amazing spiced drinks quite the way she can. What I can do is put my own twist on the spirit of them, and that’s exactly what I’ve done.
I don’t remember exactly when or where I was the first time I had mulled wine. I have to admit that, for longer than I care to say, I didn’t think it existed beyond history and old stories. However, the first time I had it, I discovered it was basically winter in a glass. It was decided then and there that it would be part of my new, personal holiday tradition. I know it’s still a little early but I couldn’t wait to get started, so I’ve already made a batch or two.
This year I decided to go with a Cabernet Sauvignon from Line 39 Wine. It perfectly matched the profile of what I was looking for, plus the notes of currant, blackberry, and ripe plum sounded like they would go PERFECTLY with the fruits and spices I usually use when I make mulled wine. I have to tell you, I was totally right.
The 39th parallel runs through California wine country and is the inspiration for this line of wines that bring the best grapes the state has to offer together into great red and white wines.
On this particular evening, we decided to make a meat pie and roasted veggies to go along with our wine. I never really got the ‘old world’ feeling out of my head so this type of pairing has felt pretty perfect to me. Everything was completely delicious and surprisingly easy to make (recipe is at the bottom, in case you’re interested).
For dessert we decided to go a little bit lighter with fruit, cheese, and a great Chardonnay from Line 39 Wine as well. This crisp, refreshing, medium-bodied wine is perfect for pairing with lighter dishes. The main meal was pretty heavy so I didn’t want to get overwhelmed. However, I thoroughly plan on trying out a mulled white wine in the near future. The idea of mixing things up with a few apricots to bring out the natural flavors of the one we had sounds awesome.
So, there you have it, a little piece of my new holiday tradition. It’s definitely only one part of what I’m doing, but all of those spices and flavors might just have the single biggest impact. I couldn’t recommend more that you give it a try yourself.
Italian-Style Mulled Wine Recipe
- 1 bottle Line 39 Wine Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1/3 cup sugar or honey
- 2 tablespoons orange zest (zest of
- 4 tablespoons orange juice (juice of 1 orange (use a vegetable peeler to create the strips of zest, being careful to make them thin and avoiding the bitter white pith)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (zest of 1 lemon; same method as for the orange)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 pinch nutmeg (freshly grated)
- 1/4-inch ginger (fresh, peeled and bruised with the back of a chef’s knife)
- 1 whole star anise
- 1/2 vanilla pod
- 10 whole allspice berries
- 5 whole black peppercorns
- 1-2 bay leaves
- In a non-reactive, heavy pot (an enamel-lined Dutch oven is ideal for this), mix the sugar or honey, citrus zest, orange juice, and spices.
- Heat the mixture over medium-high heat until the sugar or honey is dissolved and an aromatic syrup has formed about 4-5 minutes. Then lower the heat to low and add the wine. Bring to a simmer and continue over low heat for about 15 minutes or until wine is flavorful. Be careful not to let the wine boil, which adversely affects the flavor.
- Ladle through a fine-mesh strainer into mugs or heat-resistant glasses to serve. You can garnish each mug with an orange slice or stick of cinnamon if desired. Serve steaming hot.
If you’re interested in making the meat pie, is was based on the beef stroganoff recipe here but baked in a pie crust instead of being served with noodles. Serve roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes on the side.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Line 39 Wine.