This lovely cider has been perfect for these past few snowy, bitter-cold winter days. It's cozy and perfect for cuddling in on the sofa with your lovebug (that's our family talk for a loved one).
A note on apple juice for this recipe:
Please use real juice. If you purchase organic, it's real. Otherwise, read the label carefully, you want apple juice "fresh pressed" from real apples NOT from concentrate. It does make a huge difference in flavor, please don't skimp here. It will most likely be in a glass jar, not plastic and there will be apple "particles" settled on the bottom in a thick layer. Shake well before using.
32 oz real apple juice
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
4 whole cloves
1 citrus fruit of somekind; orange, tangerine, clementine
2 cups medium to full bodied red wine; such as a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon
Using a microplane, zest 1 teaspoon of citrus peel into the cider; then cut your citrus fruit into wedges and float the wedges in the cider.
If it bothers you to have the cloves floating around loose in your cider, buy a cloth tea bag or cheesecloth to tie them up in for steeping. If you do leave them loose, just make sure to fish them out before you serve the cider, an unexpected clove is no fun.
Pour all ingredients into pot and simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes to allow flavors to fuse. Serve each cup with a wedge of the citrus fruit for nice presentation. Yields 4 cups.