December in Virginia Wine Country means it is time for mulled wine. Pretty soon you will not be able to walk into a tasting room without enjoying the aromas of cinnamon, cloves and orange peels.
It seems that every winery has a favorite wine for mulling. Some, like Swedenburg, even sell bottles of pre-mulled wine. Just heat and serve.
A good mulling wine is one with lots of fruit and soft tannins. You don't want the mulling spices to overwhelm the wine. Similarly, you don't want a mulled wine so astringent that you cannot enjoy the spices.
We are hosting a holiday open house this weekend during which we'll be serving mulled wine as the drink of choice. So, I posed the question to Facebook: Which Virginia Wine is the bet for mulling.
There were two recommendations: Loudoun Valley Vineyards 2008 Dynasty and the Casanel Vineyards 2008 Merlot.
Given that these are both great wines, we had to have a taste off.
The Dynasty is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Touriga Nacional. It has great vanilla aromas, lots of red fruit and smooth tannins.
The Casanel 2008 Merlot has black cherry and currant flavors with tannins that have softened nicely with age.
Both wines are great options for mulled wine.
While you can create your own spice pack, I prefer to use pre-made spices, in this case from Williams Somoma. They recommend 2 tablespoons of spices per bottle, plus 1/3 cup of sugar. I simmered the two wines for 20 minutes in a saucepan and they were ready to go.
Both wines came out really well, it was a close call. But, to find out the winner you have to come to the open house.
Do you have a favorite Virginia Wine for mulling?