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Mulled Wine: a Late Summer, Early Fall Treat

Traditionally known as a “winter” drink, mulled wine can also be enjoyed in the late summer/early fall season.  It actually makes a great segue into fall, and its familiar aroma often brings back happy childhood memories. (And since there is abundant evidence that connects our sense of smell with episodic memory, a warm cup may just surprise you with an image you’ve long forgotten!)  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 bottle dry red wine (a Merlot is especially good)
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cloves (whole)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 pinch of allspice
  • 2 strips of orange peels
  • 2 strips of lemon peels

Mix your entire bottle of wine with the water, sugar, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, orange and lemon peels in a saucepan.  Simmer over low heat for 25 minutes.  If desired, add more sugar for a sweeter drink.  A bit of honey can also be added, or even substituted for sugar, for an alternate variation.

And while enjoying your own mulled wine, ponder this profound passage from Marcel Proust’s The Remembrance of Things Past: “When from a long distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.”

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