Mulling Port wine might seem a bit intense, but eliminating the sugar, using lemon and diluting with water can help offset the sweetness, and creates a unique take on the drink.
Use fruity ruby Port (Borges NV Reserva Ruby is a great budget-friendly option), rather than nutty Tawny or tannic Vintage. The spices here are similar to mulled red wine, but bay leaves add a subtle savory note. This is stronger than regular mulled wine, so tread carefully.
- 2 lemons
- 2 bottles ruby Port
- 2 cinnamon sticks, 3-4 inches long
- 12 allspice berries (can substitute 12 cloves)
- 4 whole star anise
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 6 dried bay leaves
- ¼ cup brandy
- Whole nutmeg, grated (for garnish)
- Rosemary stalks (for garnish)
Scrub lemons well. Using vegetable peeler, carve large ribbons of peel, then juice remaining fruit.
Add peel, juice, 1 cup Port, 1 cup water, cinnamon, allspice, star anise, peppercorns and bay leaves to 3-quart stockpot or Dutch oven. Over high heat, bring to rolling boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add remaining Port and brandy. Heat until just below 170°F. Use candy thermometer to measure temperature. Grate nutmeg over top. Garnish with rosemary stalks.