Hot wine, Christmas trees and Hobbits

I’m getting into the Chrismas spirit. I started by posting my Christmas recipe round up on Saturday and populating my Japan friendly Christmas recipe board on pinterest. I attempted to decorate the house on Sunday night but it was a big of a failure. In Japan, instead of doing spring cleaning you do osoji just before the New Years (usually December 30th or 31st) but we decided to do a large part of it this weekend and by the time I had put hot wine on the stove (this only takes a couple of minutes) and taken a bath I had no energy. I was planning on drinking hot wine, watching the first Lord of the Rings movie and trimming the tree. I ended up putting up the tree and lights and then watching the (ridiculously long but marvelous) movie until 3am in a half vegetative state. Twas good but I ended up decorating the house in the morning.  The Hobbit is coming out on the 14th in Japan so I just reread the book and am watching the Lord of the Rings Trilogy in preparation. The Hobbit only took a couple of days and was a much easier read than I remember. Then again, I probably read it last in junior high.

Christmas tree in japan

Anyhow, let’s talk hot wine. I make two kinds, one with citrus rind and one one with orange juice. The orange juice is easy to drink and is great for people who are not that into wine. I don’t add any hard liquor to mine as I don’t actually like the taste of alcohol all that much. Before I made hot wine the first time I did a bit of research and found out that cheap wine is best because it is sweet. This is great news because you can make it more often. I often use the 400 yen bottles of wine but sometimes splurge and use the 500 yen bottles.

I use cinnamon sticks ( シナモンスティック shinamon suthikku), cardamon pods (カルダモンホール karudamon hooru) and whole cloves (クローブホール kurobu hooru) in my hot wine. You can use powdered spices if you can’t find them whole but I like the whole spices. You can find all three of these spices in grocery stores that have good spice sections. They are usually less expensive in import shops that stock ingredients for Indian food. I usually bring cinnamon sticks back with me when I go back to Canada for a visit because I find them rather expensive here. One small pack of cloves and cardamon will last years but I could use a big bag of cinnamon sticks every winter.

Hot wine

Hot Wine I

1 bottle (750mL) cheap red wine
1 cup water
1/2-1 cup orange juice
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks (one is okay if you are rationing them)
1 cardamon pod
5 cloves

Bring the wine and water to a boil and add the spices. Simmer until the room smells delightfully spicy. Add the orange juice and sugar to taste. Each wine will require a different amount of sugar so I add it slowly until it reaches the perfect sweetness. The same goes for the orange juice. Serve hot.

Hot Wine II

1 bottle (750mL) cheap red wine
1 cup water
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks (one is okay if you are rationing them)
1 cardamon pod
5 cloves
half the zest of a citrus fruit of your choice

Peel the zest off of the citrus fruit – my favorites are orange, lemon or yuzu. Make sure you only get the colored part on the outside and none of the white part underneath as it is bitter. Bring the wine and water to a boil and add the spices and rind. Simmer until the room smells delightfully spicy. Add the sugar to taste. Each wine will require a different amount of sugar so I add it slowly until it reaches the perfect sweetness. Serve hot.

What’s your favorite way to make hot wine?