People, believe it or not, I've found a use for kiddush wine. For those who have never had it, it's a traditionally sweet wine to represent the sweetness of blessings, but there's just so much sweetness a person can handle until terms like cloying and sickly come to mind. But add some spices and fruit, and heat it up, and it's actually quite nice. There you have it, mulled wine, no sugar added. Good for the cold weather, too.
A few weeks ago, I had the honor of attending a Tel Aviv food blogger meet-up. Yael of Oranges and Honey  (in Finnish), Irene of Irene Sharon Hodes , Sarah of Foodbridge , Michelle of Baroness Tapuzina  and Miriam of Israeli Kitchen  and I met at Mazzarine in Tel Aviv for dinner (see my previous review ). The management had caught wind of our nature, and sent over a handful of offerings on the house, along with the new chef. Culinary highlights: I quite liked the foccaccia and the mustard mayonnaise; chef Sharon Artzi, who had been there a week at the time, told us he planned to renovate the menu with new dishes; and the mulled wine that closed our meal was excellent. A traditional Scandinavian holiday drink, as Yael pointed out. (Non-food highlight: Have you ever been out to eat with six people who all get up and methodologically photograph every dish? It's nice to be with like minds.)
Along with cubes of fresh fruit, Mazzarine added a few dried rosebuds to their mulled wine, and while they don't add a prominent flavor, they make a nice visual touch.
Now, you could make mulled wine from slightly better stock, but why bother? I've never exactly been a wine connoisseur, and in any case, why ruin something that's worth drinking on its own? And who doesn't have a random, unwanted bottle of kiddush wine sitting around?
In my version, I used quinces, which have a somewhat floral flavor and compliment the rosebuds. I also used mini-lemons (a.k.a. "Chinese lemons"). I'd love to try this with kumquats. You can use whatever fruits suit your fancy, as well as a range of pie spices.
Generally, mulled wine is simmered for a long period of time, but I let the lemon and rosebuds infuse on their own, in the refrigerator, and they thus maintained their colors. Only the quince was boiled -- most kinds of quince need to be cooked before they can be eaten.
For a bottle's worth:
1 quince, cubed
3-4 mini-lemons (or 1-2 full-sized lemons), finely sliced
a broken cinnamon stick or two
half a dozen cloves
4-6 cardamom pods
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
a dozen dried rosebuds or so
1 bottle red wine (if you don't use kiddush wine, you'll have to add sugar to taste)
Optional: Vodka to increase the alcohol content
Finely cube the quince, put in pot and just cover with wine, add spices, cover and boil until quince is soft. Turn off flame, add the rest of the wine, the rosebuds and the sliced lemons.
Let sit to infuse for long as possible -- a few days in the fridge is just fine. Heat before drinking.