Makes about 1 cup syrup and doubles easily
Make a glossy garnet colored syrup by simmering down red wine, sugar and spices. Store it away in the fridge and use it to dress up simple desserts. Lustrous and richly flavored, this syrup makes anything you blend it with taste grander. Try it over winter fruits, vanilla ice cream, panna cotta, gingerbread, chocolate cake, even roast duck, pork or chicken. Wine syrup originated sometime in the seventh or eighth centuries. It was court food made with the precious spices from the Spice Islands. Probably at first honey was used instead of sugar.
1. In a 12-inch skillet combine wine, sugar and spices. Simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes, or until syrupy. Stir often. Turn off heat, cover, and let steep 20 minutes.
2. Strain the syrup, turning it back into the pan. Boil another few minutes or until a spatula pulled across the skillet leaves a trail. Cool and refrigerate.
Copyright 1998 by Lynne Rossetto Kasper
Darra Goldstein is editor in chief of The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, an 888-page reference guide to all things sweet. "The book is really a compendium of human desires, a cultural history of desire for things that are sweet and what it has caused in the world, in both the realm of pleasure and also of pain," she says.