I really like mulled wine. A great warm mug of mulled wine is oh so perfect to chase away the chill, and warm up around the holidays or during the long winter months

There is a misnomer that you should use “undrinkable” wine in this recipe because you’re adding so many bold flavors that you’ll never notice the “skankiness” of the undrinkable wine that you’re using.

Don’t even think about it! Use a couple bottles of bold wine like a Merlot, or a Cab, you can get a great bottle for around $6.00 - $7.00 that will taste just fine, or even better pop in to one of the many local wineries here in the great Garden State and use their wine to make it extra special.

I’m a believer that whatever you put into a recipe is what you’ll get coming out, if you use tasty ingredients the full compliment will result in a great finished product. Here’s my take on a good mulled wine, heat it up and enjoy the warmth and great flavor. Skål!

You'll need:

2 bottles of wine (pref Merlot or Cabernet)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cups Port
1 cup of Bourbon
3 cups of apple cider
6 apples sliced
2 small oranges sliced into quarters
10 cloves (pressed into the orange slices if you want to be fancy)
1 tbsp of honey to taste (don’t use sugar)

How to put it together:

Prep apples, and oranges, sliced and cloves stuck into the rind of the oranges. Into a large sauce pan add the wine bring it slowly to where it's just barely simmering, add the apple cider then port wine, all should be warmed through but don't ever let it boil.

Add cinnamon sticks, apples and oranges. Add bourbon last, turn off heat and let it steep for 5 minutes. Taste and add honey if bitter or to cut bourbon. Heat all ingredients for 3 minutes. Serve hot in warmed up mugs.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

The best outdoor beer gardens at NJ breweries

There are more options than ever for enjoying a Garden State crafted beer in an outdoor setting.

New Jersey tied for first place (with Kentucky) with 43% growth in the craft beer scene from 2015 to 2019, according to C+R Research.

The following is a roundup of breweries around the state with scenic, dedicated outdoor seating as weather allows.