A Warm Way to Welcome the New Year

    I don’t know about you, but over the holidays I was so busy with so many activities that I had absolutely no time to keep one of my personal Christmas traditions alive: concocting a special “brew” to share with Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

     Look, even though he works only one night per year, Santa has a tough gig. Not only is he tasked with delivering toys to good little boys and girls all around the world within a single 24-hour period, but he also is compelled to consume literally tons of cookies and tens of thousands of gallons of milk.

     Truth be told, by the time Santa gets around to the ever so humble Johnson abode, he’s ready for anything but another glass of milk. So it has been my tradition since joining the Vinesse family to whip up something special for him.

     If he notices it and has time to partake, great. If not, and it’s left behind… well, that’s a bonus glass for me.

     But, as I mentioned, I just ran out of time this year, and when Santa came by my place, he had to settle for yet another glass of milk (non-fat, of course).

     Sorry, Santa! I promise to make it up to you in 2009.

     Meanwhile, the brew I’d planned to make for Christmas Eve 2008 is no mere one-night wonder; it can be enjoyed at any time of the year, but it’s particularly satisfying during the cold winter months.

     So, the next time a big snow storm or other happenstance relegates you to “house arrest,” try this recipe. It’s easy to make, it makes about 8 servings, and the red wine I prefer to use is an Argentine Malbec.

     (Note: I’ve purposely not included precise measurements for a couple of the ingredients; it’s best that you portion them to your personal taste preference.)



* 1 bottle (750-ml.) red wine

* Cardamom, to taste

* Allspice, to taste

* 1 slice orange, quartered

* 3 tablespoons sugar

* 3 oz. brandy

* 8 cinnamon sticks


     1. Mix the wine, spices, orange slice and sugar in a large pot, and bring to a light simmer for about 15 minutes. Do not boil.

     2. Remove from heat and let cool.

     3. Strain through a fine sieve, add brandy, and pour into an empty bottle.

     4. Refrigerate overnight.

     5. When ready to serve, reheat to steaming in a saucepan or slow cooker; do not microwave or boil.

     6. Pour into coffee cups, garnish with a cinnamon stick, and serve.

Posted in Editor's Journal
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