I love that we are moving into fall weather. It’s time to transition from my refreshing, crisp white “summer” wines into my favorite fall and winter wines. This time of year, my home is always filled with friends and family coming and going. While it’s fun to just open a bottle of wine and sit by the chimenea or fireplace, I often like to make my wine extra special by making holiday cocktails and warm wine beverages.
I thought it would be fun to share my family’s favorite get-together holiday drinks. It’s never too early to stock up on some specialty ingredients in anticipation of the holidays. To be honest, I’m kind of lazy and I really hate going to the grocery store. I know I can open a bottle of wine in 5 seconds, and everyone will enjoy it. But this time of year, if I have the right ingredients in my house, I’m more likely to make some of my favorite wine drinks. I keep a list of ingredients stored on my computer and once November 1 arrives, I hit the store to make sure I have everything on hand.
All of these recipes will work for Thanksgiving, Christmas and everyday in between. They are also very easy to customize to your own taste. You can change up many of the ingredients to get a little different flavor or color to suit the occasion.
So, no fanfare…here they are…
Mulled Cranberry Wine
I recommend the Cranberry wine from Black’s Smuggler Winery.
1 bottle of Cranberry Wine. (1 bottle of dry red + 1 or 2 cups of cranberry juice will work in a pinch)
3 cinnamon sticks
2 whole star anise
2 oranges cut into slices
1/3 c. Port wine. (You can also use a very sweet red wine like Amour from Amaro Winery)
1/4 – 1/2 c. sugar (I have also tried maple syrup, brown sugar, and honey)
1/2 c. cranberries—fresh or frozen
Put everything in a slow cooker and stir to combine. Put it on high for 20-ish minutes or on low if you have time to let it simmer. Heat it through but don’t let it boil or you’ll burn off the alcohol in the wine. I like to take the star anise and cloves (make sure you count them) out after about 30 minutes. Personal choice. Garnish with an orange slice, a cinnamon stick, or a few cranberries
This one is for my white wine loving compadres. It’s a low ABV pre- dinner cocktail that works perfectly if you’re planning to have another wine with dinner. We like to have it on Thanksgiving.
3 cups of Cranberry juice (try a different juice for a different color theme)
3 cups of Ginger Ale
Mix everything together in a pitcher or a punch bowl. Garnish with fresh cranberries.
Apple Cider Sangria
2 cups of apple cider
1 cup of apple brandy (Pear brandy will work)
3 apples thinly sliced (I like Granny Smith for the tartness, but Red Delicious are good, too)
12 oz bottle of Ginger Ale
Combine the cider, brandy, wine, and the juice of the lemon in a pitcher. Then stir in the apple slices. Refrigerate it for at least 4 hours and up to a day. Just before serving, pour in the ginger ale and serve it over ice. I like to put apple slices in the glass to give it a festive look.
Idea: I am going to try making this Otoño Glow orange wine from Jaramillo. I think it will be delicious!
French 75 Cocktail
This is not my recipe, and it doesn’t have a festive name, but it is great for the holidays. I recommend using a dry sparkling wine from Gruet. This recipe makes 2 cocktails at a time.
3 oz gin (Please use a good gin! I like to use Citadelle gin from France.)
2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup (I know you can make simple syrup but I get it in the “alcohol” section of Walmart)
Sparkling wine, chilled
Combine the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup into a cocktail shaker. Add a few ice cubes and then shake for 10-20 seconds (who really counts?) until its well-chilled. Pour it into a champagne flute or into a martini glass and top with chilled sparkling wine. Garnish it with a twist of lemon peel.
This is a bolder wine cocktail. I recommend using Caballo Cabernet Sauvignon or the Seco Creek Red from Shattuck Winery
2 oz. of Red Wine
A shot of Cognac (You can use bourbon, but I prefer Cognac)
A shot of simple syrup
Stir it altogether and put a cherry or some orange peel on it for garnish.
There is nothing like Christmas in Germany! Our family loves to spend the holidays there every few years when we can. There is nothing like hitting up the Christmas Markets and holding a warm mug of Glühwein in your hands.
1 orange sliced thin
3/4 c. water
1/4 – 1/2 c. sugar (I use turbinado, but white will do)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole star anise
20 whole cloves
Put everything in a crockpot or a heavy pan and simmer until its hot and steamy. Just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t boil. This is delicious when you come in from a cold wintery evening. You don’t need to garnish it with anything. Serve in a copper mule mug or a regular coffee mug. The slower and longer it simmers the better it is.
Winter Wine Punch
This is my go-to cocktail for parties!
2 c. Cranberry Juice
1 c. Pomegranate, Passionfruit, OR Pineapple juice
12 oz Ginger beer or Ginger Ale
5 oz of Triple Sec
It helps to have all of the ingredients be really cold before you start. Mix everything together in a punchbowl and serve over a little ice. Garnish with a twig of Rosemary and a fresh cranberry or two.
Waiting for Santa Hot Chocolate
Use a dry, fruit-forward red wine for this one. I recommend the Merlot from Pasando Tiempo Winery.
2/3 cup red wine
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. (I like Ghiradelli)
1/2 cup milk. (I like coconut or almond milk)
1/2 cup half and half
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 T. sugar (optional—I don’t use it, but my adult children do)
Whipped cream (optional)
Decorative sugar or sprinkles (optional)
Combine the chocolate chips, wine, milk, half, and half in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate chips are melted, and the mixture is hot. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. If you want to add sugar, you can add it in at the beginning or taste it first and stir some in afterward. I top my hot chocolate with whipped cream and put color sugar on top.
New Mexico has a lot of amazing wines that can be used in many different and festive ways. I tried to recommend wine that I have used from some of my favorite wineries. If you don’t have time to make a cocktail, punch, or mulled wine, just open a bottle. You won’t be disappointed.
Until next time….