As the weather gets colder here in California, you can bet that we’re curling up with some of our favorite holiday movies in anticipation of Christmas. I’ve already watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, How the Grinch Stole Christmas… basically all of the animated ones. Next on my list is everyone’s favorite Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. Being an unsentimental person, it took me awhile to truly appreciate this holiday classic. It deals with some pretty dark themes (alcoholism, suicide, and grand larceny among them), but its appeal lies in the fact that everyone can relate to George Bailey, the everyman living a seemingly mediocre life. The film reminds us that we’ve probably all made a positive impact on somebody’s life and we should be thankful for the life we have (even if the kids are acting up, your business is in jeopardy, and you might be doing hard time in the near future).
A warm and cozy movie night wouldn’t be complete without libations, so I made a mulled wine that’s inspired by Clarence, George Bailey’s simple but kindhearted guardian angel. If you recall, Clarence orders a mulled wine at Martini’s bar, a sign that he’s definitely from a bygone era. Mulled wine used to be considered an old timey drink here in the US, but it’s become more popular because of shows like Game of Thrones (mulled wine is, after all, the Queen Regent’s favorite drink). It’s actually a traditional Christmas drink called glühwein in Germany and is enjoyed throughout Europe during the wintertime.
Mulled wine has existed as far back as the Roman Empire and is basically wine cooked slowly with an assortment of spices and served warm, making it the perfect refreshment for those cold winter nights. It’s also relatively simple to make in a large batch, so if you’re looking for a recipe for your holiday potluck, look no further. I, for one, will be nursing a warm mug of this brew and taking a moment to appreciate life, loved ones, and of course, It’s a Wonderful Life.
Holiday Mulled Wine (Yield: 4 servings)
1 bottle of dry red wine, Cabernet Sauvignon is recommended (750 ml)
1 orange, zest and juice (try to eliminate the white pith)
2 apples, chopped into quarters
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anis
2 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon ginger
1/3 cup honey
¼ cup brandy (optional)
- Add all ingredients to a medium sized pot and heat on low without bringing it to a boil. Heat it for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, then remove from heat (Warning: boiling or overcooking can make the wine bitter and burn off the alcohol).
- Leave the wine and spices to steep for an additional 10 minutes.
- Strain out the spices and fruits, then serve in a mug and enjoy.