The Hunt Is On


Over the past few days, I’ve seen seven apartments. And we’re still looking. Some were unbelievably small, one only had heat “available” in one room (hmmm), and one of the landlords seemed legitimately insane. I actually dragged my mom around the city with me yesterday looking at places; she was a trooper. We did have many stops for fuel which helped ease the bustle/weirdness/stress/anxiety: Miette on Hayes St. for a gingerbread cupcake, La Boulange for a mini latte, and Paulette for an almond macaron to take home for later. I was thinking a cocktail was in order, but it was really only late afternoon. So I waited until we got home.

Then it was time to put on a pot for mulled wine. I often have a glass of wine with dinner, but with the evenings becoming cold and even icy, why not have warm mulled wine instead? If you’ve never tried it, it has notes of citrus and warm spice and is perfect to ease the pain of dingy, disappointing apartments…or whatever it is that’s ailing you at the moment.

I got this recipe from Romney Steele’s My Nepethe Cookbook. I have so many recipes bookmarked to try from the book that it almost seems silly that this simple drink recipe was the first up. If you missed it, Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks recently made Romney’s Orange and Oat Scones and they looked awesome. Other stand out recipes I’m looking forward to trying are the Persimmon Pudding Cake, the Nepethe Cheese Pie, and Javier’s Chile Rellenos. If you haven’t seen Romney’s book, it is a collection of recipes culled from her family’s Big Sur Restaurant, Nepethe. While narrative cookbooks based around family lore are certainly nothing new, Romney’s book is a bit different in that it speaks so much to how a singular place can color an upbringing, a family, a restaurant, and a community. Sara Remington’s photography is absolutely stunning in that earthy, muted, moody style that displays and celebrates the landscapes and colors of Big Sur.

So without further ado, the recipe for Mulled Wine. The nice thing about Mulled Wine is you can really fiddle with it and adjust it to your own tastes. I did adapt the recipe slightly, adding a bit more cinnamon, cloves, and less sugar. Think about the wine you’re using in relation to the sugar you’ll be adding. I used a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau we had leftover from Thanksgiving and it’s a big, jammy, little-bit-sweet wine. Also, you can really let this simmer away for an hour or more to let the flavors develop-just know you’ll need to add more wine as it will reduce naturally.

Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine

  • Yield: 4-6
  • Cook time: 40 mins
  • Total time: 40 mins

Slightly adapted from: My Nepenthe


20 whole cloves
1 orange
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla bean
3 slices lemon peel
1 (750 -milliliter) bottle fruity red wine
Brandy (optional)


Stick the cloves into the orange, making a decorative pattern if you’d like.

Combine the orange, water, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla bean, and lemon peel in a large, nonreactive pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour in the wine. Simmer over low heat until the flavors meld, about 30 minutes. Just before serving, pour in a jigger or two of brandy. Serve hot.


  1. Shannalee

    This looks so lovely, I am mentally plotting ways to use what I already have and re-create a variation (apple cider, clove-studded clementines, cinnamon?). Best wishes with the apartment hunting - it can be draining, I know.

  2. Megan Gordon

    Yes, Shannalee! So many good variations...I think clove-studded clementines would be amazing.

    And thanks for the apartment well-wishes (we'll need it!)

  3. El

    Apartment hunting is a nightmare. I'm sorry for your ordeal but when you find the right place it will be worth all the headache. What a great way to finish the day with this elegant mulled wine. Beautiful recipe. Thanks for the cookbook tips too!

  4. Chez Danisse

    You might think I'm crazy, but I've never used heat in SF. I turned on my radiator a couple of times and it was such a fiasco I just decided to do without and it hasn't been all that bad. Maybe you can do without? Or maybe it's because I'm from Chicago and all other San Franciscans would disagree with me. Hmmm... I've never tried mulled wine--looks fun!

  5. carra turney young

    I make mulled wine every year but i use a mulling spice from Williams Sonoma. This season I'm going to give this a whirl,thanks for the recipe! Oh, and my sis made a delicious perssimon pudding cake for thanksgiving and it was AMAZING! Loving the blog ever since I discovered you via Jean's. Keep up the amazing work! xo

  6. Megan Gordon

    Thanks El, Denise and Carra (wheeeee: an old, familiar face on the blog-nice to see you here!).

    And yes, Denise, I do think you're just a teeny bit crazy for never using the heat. Although I have to say, in a very frugal winter in Boston I wouldn't let my roommates touch the thermostat once. Lots of bundling...

  7. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite

    Megan - this looks GREAT! I will totally be using this recipe next Sat at our annual holiday party :-)

    Good luck with the apartment hunt - the right one WILL present itself!

  8. Chez Danisse

    Today I am doubting all I said. Get the heat! Brrrrrrrrrrr...

  9. Rob

    I used to live in San Francisco, and your beautiful images makes me miss being there. Lovely.

  10. Megan Gordon

    Denise--I hear ya'!
    Brrr! Not signing a lease without full access :)

  11. Megan Gordon

    Thanks, Rob.
    I just headed over to your blog and it's quite lovely as well! Thanks for stopping by...

  12. Danielle

    The cold front has got me thinking about mulled wine today - glad I found your recipe, off to the stove I go! *hic*

  13. Sophie

    Your mulled wine looks very inviting! I so love it!

    Yummie! Cheers!

  14. AmandaonMaui

    I made this last night. It was the first time I'd ever had mulled wine. I loved it! I bought a $9 bottle of wine since I was going to be covering it up with sugar and spices anyway.

    The only thing that bummed me was that it felt like a waste of a whole orange. Maybe I could put orange slices next time and put the cloves in a cheesecloth bag.

    1. megang

      Hi Amanda! I always felt that way about the orange, too. I love your idea of using the whole orange and preserving the cloves. Glad you enjoyed the recipe--I haven't made it yet this year, but need to get on it.

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