Share the sweet tradition of warm mulled wine this holiday season with our easy hand-made gift. Just slip aromatic spices into a cheesecloth or drawstring muslin bag, bundle dried orange slices together with string, and package it all up with a couple of bottles of zinfandel. The rich berry notes of the wine complement the bold flavors of warm spices and floral citrus. Add a note with instructions on how to bring it all together, and you have the perfect gift for a hostess or hard-to-shop-for foodie. For an alcohol-free alternative, substitute cider or pomegranate juice for the wine.


SPICED MULLED WINEHands-on: 15 min. Total: 3 hr. 45 min.Oven-drying orange slices gives them a longer shelf life, which is ideal for gift-giving. For a sweet homespun touch, hand-write the recipe on an old-fashioned recipe card.

1 large orange, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slicesCooking spray10 black peppercorns5 whole cloves4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed3 whole allspice2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise1/3 cup sugar1/3 cup orange juice2 (750-milliliter) bottles zinfandel or other fruity dry red wine

1. Preheat oven to 200°.

2. Arrange orange slices on a wire rack coated with cooking spray; place rack on a baking sheet. Bake at 200° for 3 hours or until dried.

3. Combine peppercorns and next 5 ingredients on a double layer of cheesecloth. Gather edges of cheese-cloth together; tie securely.

4. Combine orange slices, spice sachet, sugar, orange juice, and wine in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat just to a simmer (do not boil). Reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes. Discard sachet.

SERVES 10 (serving size: ½ cup)CALORIES 172; FAT 0.1g (sat 0g, mono 0g, poly 0g); PROTEIN 0g; CARB 15g; FIBER 1g; CHOL 0mg; IRON 3mg; SODIUM 1mg; CALC 10mg

Pack Up a PresentNo Strain, No Pain - Bundling spices in cheesecloth or muslin bags eliminates the need to strain after steeping.

Stringing Them Along - Let dried oranges breathe to prevent moisture buildup. Simply tie with kitchen twine.

Red, Red Wine - Zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, and shiraz are hearty wines that will stand up well to the drink's other prominent flavors.