Mulled wine is a festive addition to any holiday cocktail party. Plus, the mulled wine fills your house with a wonderful aroma as it simmers on the stoevetop.
Stir 1/2 cup sugar and 2 (750 ml) bottles dry red wine over low heat until sugar dissolves. Add 2 cinnamon sticks, 8 cloves, 2 star anise (optional) and 2 strips orange zest. Bring to a simmer (do not boil); reduce heat. Barely simmer for 10 minutes. Strain into heatproof glasses. (Strained wine can be refrigerated, tightly covered, up to 3 days.) Serves 8.