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Mulling through the holidays

The perfect holiday recipe has nothing to do with gingerbread men or pumpkin pie or a roast turkey. It's all about Bing Crosby's crisp melodies accompanied by a crackling fireplace and a few glasses of warm-the-soul mulled wine.

For the unfortunate uninitiated, mulled wine is a steaming hot cocktail typically composed of red wine, spices, maybe fruits and perhaps diluted with some water. Certain variations call for the inclusion of brandy or other liquors. Recipes range and can be found throughout the Internet, but if you don't feel like mixing up a batch of your own, there are several local options to indulge in the whimsical spirit.

Two of those options are Corcoran Vineyards in Waterford and the relatively new Twin Oaks Tavern Winery in Bluemont.

(If you haven't yet made it out to Twin Oaks, right off Route 7, the views across the Shenandoah Valley are simply brilliant, and the wine is promising. The estate chardonnay specifically has earned several accolades.)

The view at Twin Oaks Tavern Winery in Bluemont goes well with Donna Evers' (Twin Oaks' owner) hot mulled wine. Photo Courtesy/Facebook, Twin Oaks Tavern Winery

Lori Corcoran, who serves mulled wine at her tasting room, recently posted her cocktail's recipe on her blog. Ingredients include a bottle of red wine, two cups of water, two or three cinnamon sticks, eight to 10 whole allspice, eight to 10 whole cloves, a half cup of sugar and zest from half an orange.

Corcoran directs: Combine water, spices, sugar and orange zest in a 2-quart sauce pan; stir and cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves; simmer over low heat for an hour; strain out spices and return to pan while adding one bottle of red wine. Corcoran prefers, of course, a Corcoran cabernet franc or their port-style USB.

Frequently drank in Victorian England, mulled wine isn't meant to be taken too seriously or scrutinized by its imbiber. But don't let that lessen its appeal, especially on a frigid winter night. Think of the comfort of hot apple cider or hot tea, the zest of sangria, scent of cinnamon and the empowering finish of a punchy red wine – that's the mulled wine experience.

Elsewhere in western Loudoun, both Sunset Hills and Breaux Vineyards are hosting holiday open houses during which you can savor local mulled wine. Breaux's event falls on Dec. 7-8 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., while Sunset's is being held every Saturday and Sunday in December.

“Like sangria in summer, mulled wine enhances the fruit of the vine with a combination of spices, fruit, brandy and sugar,” notes Jim Clarke of Imbibe Magazine. “Think of it as liquid fruitcake, except that guests will actually be glad to see it when the holidays roll around.”

Featuring news on the Loudoun County wine industry, the Times-Mirror's “Wine Wednesday” appears the first Wednesday of each month. Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Check out recent Wine Wednesdays:

-"Oz Clarke dazzles Virginia Wine Summit crowd" -- Nov. 6
-"A quarter-century of Virginia Wine Month" -- Oct. 2
-"The 'Green Hills' of Middleburg" -- Sept. 4


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