Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mulled Wine: Our Family's Holloween Treat

As far back as I can remember our house filled with the scent of cinnamon and cloves on Holloween evening. On our block mulled wine was the number one treat for the adults. My mother credits our next-door neighbors, the Reis family for starting the tradition. She has a copy of their recipe dated 1971.  I was five years old that year and I believe the recipe was passed down as the Reis' moved away.  My mom certainly did her best to uphold the tradition.  Each year she would make up a big batch and keep it warm in a Corningware percolator sitting atop a lit jack-o-lantern.  She passed out styrofoam cups to the adults who were chaperoning their kids through the flat suburbs of Lakewood Gardens.

As soon as we became homeowners I began making mulled wine on Halloween night and did my best to pass it around to weary trick-o-treaters.  It's not easy to come into a new neighborhood and pass out hot wine.  People get suspicious.  It has taken years for the locals here in Manhattan Beach to take me seriously about the offer of a hot spiced toddy to fortify them for the candy trail.  One day, I'll have the steady stream of friends, neighbors & locals, as my mother did. Perhaps you will too.


Mulled Wine from the Reis Family


1 C sugar
4 C water
Zest 1/2 lemon        
18 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
12" square of cheese cloth
2 bottles (750ml) dry red, cheap wine

Put sugar and water in a large sauce pan. Tie the lemon zest and spices into a large square of cheese cloth.  Add the spice bundle to the sugar water.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the wine.  Heat until steaming but not boiling.  Remove the spice bundle.  Keep warm.  Serve to weary travellers, family members at holiday gatherings, holiday revellers, anemic enemies & friendly strangers.