Slow Cooker Cranberry Mulled Wine

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Adapted from InStyle Parties

Makes 12 - 14 servings

Ingredients

1 cup fresh (or frozen) cranberries
48 oz. (6 cups) cranberry juice cocktail
1 orange, sliced
4 to 6 cinnamon sticks
3 - 5 star anise 
2 bottles (750 ml) fruity, dry red wine such as Gamay Beaujolais
1/2 cup honey, or more to taste
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup orange-flavor liqueur or brandy (optional)

Method

Rinse berries and place in a 5 or 6-quart slow cooker; add wine, cranberry juice and honey; stir to combine. Add orange slices, cinnamon sticks and star anise. Turn slow cooker on high; cover with lid and allow flavors to meld, about 30 - 40 minutes, until warm.

After 30 minutes, turn slow cooker to 'keep warm' setting. Add almond extract and stir in orange liqueur/brandy if desired. Cover with lid and allow to mixture steep on warm setting for 30 minutes, then ladle into cups or stemmed glasses. Serve with a fresh orange slice and cinnamon stick.

Notes:

The almond extract sounds like a strange addition, but it adds an unexpected and wonderful, warm note.

Steeping wine naturally brings out the tannic, sour flavors, so add your honey and sweeten to taste. Taste after first 30 minutes and add more if needed. 

If you substitute a different variety of red wine, don't use an overly oaked  wine which has more tannins to avoid tasting bitter. 

Don't overheat the wine, bring to a simmer, not a boil.



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