The flavors and fragrances of this champagne are elegant and timeless, with a generous hint of spice, echoing the flavors of a mulled wine. The spiced syrup can be made well in advance, and its flavors will intensify as it rests.
Yields enough syrup for one bottle of champagne or sparkling wine
4 cups apple or white grape juice
1 teaspoon whole cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon crystallized ginger, chopped
½ teaspoon allspice berries, crushed
2 tablespoons orange zest, pith completely removed
¼ of one whole vanilla bean, left intact
1 bottle of dry champagne or sparkling wine
4×4” square of cheesecloth
Prepare the spice sachet:
Place all of the spices, zest and vanilla bean segment into a sachet made from a double thickness of standard cheesecloth. Tie it off with kitchen twine.
Prepare the spiced syrup:
In a small sauce pan, heat 4 cups of either the apple or white grape juice over medium-high heat until just beginning to boil. Place the sachet into the juice, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced by about half (20-30 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Remove the sachet, squeezing all the juice from the bundle. Pour the syrup through a fine mesh sieve into a clean glass container. Allow to completely cool. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The syrup will become thicker as it cools.
To serve, add 1 part spiced syrup to 2 parts champagne or sparkling wine.
[Chef’s Note: If you don’t want to fuss with a sachet, simply toss all of the mulling spices into the pan with the juice and proceed with the recipe. When you strain the syrup, strain it through cheesecloth or a coffee filter to catch the fine sediment of the spices.
When selecting your champagne or sparkling wine, remember that there is a bit of sweet to the spiced syrup. If you want a dry, elegant cocktail we recommend using a Brut champagne or sparkling wine. If you intend to use this recipe as an aperitif or as an after-dinner toast, a sweeter, extra-dry champagne may be more to your liking.
Recipe and photo by Kelly Cline