Warm-Spiced Wine Perfect for the Holiday Boat Parades               

Dana Point Boat Parade

I went to the Dana Point Board Parade last week and had the time of my life. We arrived early to snag a great spot under the bridge, from which we could see the parade at both turns. My youngest prepared and packed our dinner, I made sure I had wine in tow, and the oldest chose our Pandora Christmas tunes. The atmosphere was relaxed, jolly, and fun! I felt like I was personally in a Claymation holiday special! I was so impressed at the work boat owners put in to oblige the theme and create a festive atmosphere. I longed to be on one of the boats as I spied their onboard feasts and growing merriment.

I’m now a boat-parade convert and am eyeing a second viewing in Dana Point this weekend, and the Newport Beach Boat Christmas Parade Dec. 19-23. Now that I have the gist of things, I plan to up the ante on the wine by prepping beforehand a spiced mulled wine. The crowd around me will be envious!

The key to good mulled wine is using a red wine varietal you actually like. Many recipes suggest using a “gifted” bottle you wouldn’t normally enjoy. This is silliness. If you don’t enjoy it as is, you certainly won’t once its fluffed up with cinnamon and holiday scents. For me, I like a quality but affordable (we’re talking $15) bottle of Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, Rhone blend of syrah and grenache, or a tasty Rioja or tempranillo.

Mulled Spiced Wine

1 bottle of red wine

1 splash or about ¾ cup of port wine (fortified wine with higher alcohol and sugar)

1 cinnamon stick

1 ½ cups spiced apple cider

4 fuji apples, sliced

1 clementine

5 whole cloves

3 stars of anise

Pierce the stem end of the cloves into the clementine. Place the clove-infused clementine, apples slices, wine, spiced cider, cinnamon stick, and stars of anise in a pot. Slowly bring to a boil over medium low heat and continue simmering for about 20 minutes. Add in the splash of port wine. Strain the mixture. You can pour in separate cups with a garnish of orange peel, cinnamon stick, or apple slice or skip the garnish and pour in the larger container for sharing. Instead of port wine, you could use a dash of brandy or whiskey.

Dana Point Boat Parade

Dec. 14-15, 7:30 p.m.

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Dec. 19-23, 6:30 p.m.

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