Homemade cranberry sauce is one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions, though I make sauces multiple times throughout the holiday season every year. I always enjoyed the sweet-tart flavor of cranberry sauce growing up, but usually only bought a jar for Thanksgiving. Once I realized that the sauce is so easy to make – and so easy to put different flavor twists on – I started making it and never looked back. This Mulled Wine Cranberry Sauce is a new favorite in my kitchen, made using a simple combination of red wine, cranberries and a bit of citrus. Though mulled wine usually involves more spices, cooking a bright spicy wine alongside cranberries brings a lot of natural spiciness to the sauce and eliminates the need for additional ingredients. I recommend using a syrah, grenache, zinfandel or a spicy red blend for the best results.
The sauce is absolutely delicious and tastes like a holiday sangria. The berry notes from the red wine blend perfectly with the sweet-tart flavor of the fresh cranberries. The particular wine that I used had a nice spiciness, which came through in the finished sauce, as well. The strips of orange added just enough citrus to brighten up the sauce without dominating the other elements. It is absolutely delicious, especially if you are a wine-lover.
The sauce can be made with fresh or frozen cranberries. I tend to use fresh because they are widely available this time of year, however whole frozen berries will work just as well. If you are using frozen berries, don’t defrost them before cooking. Frozen berries may take an additional 1-2 minutes to cook completely. The sauce, regardless of what type of berries you use, can be made several days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until you re ready to serve it.
Mulled Wine Cranberry Sauce
1 cup red wine
1 cup sugar
12-oz whole cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 3-inch strips orange zest
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries begin to pop. Continue to cook for 5-8 minutes, until all the berries have popped and you no longer hear any popping sounds.
Transfer sauce to a clean dish or container and allow to cool to room temperature. Sauce will thicken as it cools. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Sauce can be prepared 4-6 days in advance.
Makes approx. 4 cups.