Warming Winter White (Spiced Wine with Orange)
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Ah, New Year’s Eve… a night (or full day) of revelry and frivolity, drinking and partying, friends and family… ideally or supposedly at any rate. We intend to spend the day brunching—oh yes, you can brunch for an entire day if properly prepared—and playing strategy board games with friends. In fact, while I sit writing this and waiting (impatiently) for my wine to spice sufficiently, Cory has immersed himself in the somewhat daunting instruction manual to a new epic game for our group called Scythe. As the teacher and the most patient member of our little group, the job of learning a new game and explaining it to the rest of us often falls to him.
I know, I know, I can feel your jealously over the fabulously nerdy holiday ahead of me! Not to worry, at some point in the evening, the strategy games will give way to their party counterparts, and the evening will surely end in raucous arguments, delirious laughter, and general chaos. You know, that or we call it a night at 10PM and all go home to sleep… you never know with this crowd—we’re a wild bunch!
Despite the merriment ahead, every year at this time, I find myself reflective and, quite frankly, usually disappointed in myself. I set (perhaps slightly overly ambitious) goals for myself each year, and I always seem to fall short. I didn’t finish enough of the house remodeling; I didn’t lose all the weight or fill my studio or perform enough or meet my financial goals or this or that. I didn’t change enough—become enough of a better person, learn enough, grow enough. I didn’t show my family and friends how much I care because I spent countless hours working or chasing career goals or simply retreating into myself like I’m wont to do. In my eyes, it seems, I’m just never enough, and you know what? It’s exhausting and draining and woefully unhelpful and unhealthy.
So this year, as I look back, I want instead to focus on the goals attained, the progress made, the personal growth achieved, and the countless hours of joy and fun spent with those I love most in the world. After all—as I constantly remind my students—it truly is about progress, not perfection. Of course, in the new year, I’ll still set my goals and strive to improve myself, but I’ll also seek better balance, greater mindfulness, and overall simplicity. I’ll work to forgive myself for past mistakes instead of replaying my worst or weakest moments over and over on endless loop in my mind.
So who’s with me? Let’s raise a glass and toast the blessings of the year; let’s replay the highlights and reminisce about days we felt on top of the world. Let’s celebrate each other’s successes and cherish the good we enjoyed. Let’s stop dwelling on our failures or our stumbles and instead remember the moments of peace and happiness and progress, no matter how small.
I’m ready to leave my disappointment and frustration behind, to forget the crappy days (because boy there were some), and to let go of the anger and resentment and general bitterness I’ve harbored this year. I’m ready to breathe in that crisp, cold air tomorrow morning and shift my perspective for the coming year to one of greater gratitude and love.
Now… what about that drink, right? When I sat down to write this post, I thought I’d stick to something short and sweet, but the wine took longer than I thought it would to spice in the crock pot, so here we are. Anyway, all emoting aside, I certainly wouldn’t want to send you into the new year without a delicious drink in hand, and since it appears the high will remain in the single digits for the next several days, I figured a hot drink would help warm us all up a bit.
Since the spices and oranges lend this drink its flavor, I don’t recommend purchasing top dollar wines, as the spices will likely overwhelm the wine’s subtleties. In fact, if you’ve got a lower quality bottle of sweet (or sweet-ish) white sitting around, let this recipe give it new life and make it the favorite of the night! If you go for a super sweet dessert wine, consider reducing or omitting the Honey.
The first time I tried this, I actually used whole spices, broken into small chunks, instead of ground; however, even after several hours, I didn’t think the wine had much of the spiced flavor. I was far more pleased with the level of spice I got from using ground spices. Remember, using fresh spices makes a significant difference in flavor and intensity, so be sure yours haven’t been sitting around in the pantry since last winter! You can also take whole spices and grind them yourself in a Coffee & Spice Grinder, which is what I did.
Now, feel free to simply forgo the added liquor and drink the spiced wine as is; it’s warm and wonderful all on it’s own, but if you’d like to add a dash of extra potency to your drink, join me in kicking it up a notch. Whatever your plans for this evening, be safe and prudent, and remember, let’s look back on the good times and be grateful before we start looking ahead again. Cheers, friends.
Be prepared for your next get-together!
- 2 bottles riesling wine
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 3/4 tsp ground star anise
- 1 medium orange, sliced thin
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1/2 C vodka
- 2 Tbsp cointreau
- Combine ground spiced in a tea bag; tie closed with kitchen twine.
- Poor both bottles wine into crockpot, and add spices and sliced oranges.
- Cover and heat on high for 2-3 hours.* (Taste for spice flavors)
- Once spiced enough for you, you can remove the oranges and tea bag of spices if you'd like, or leave spices in if you'd like more of the spice flavor.
- Some people find the oranges, if left too long, lend a bitter flavor due to the pith/rind, so consider at least removing the oranges (I juice them back into the wine after removal!).
- Add honey, vodka, and cointreau. Enjoy!
- *I personally like more of the spice and orange flavors and find I like it best after about 3 hours.
- Feel free to omit the vodka and cointreau if you prefer just the wine alone!
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Happy New Year, and love you all!
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