On the 11th day of Christmas, I'm craving hot chocolate with a twist. Have you been enjoying our 12 Days of Christmas Cocktails on Wander? On the eleventh day of Christmas Cocktails, I'm sipping something warm, chocolate, and delicious… a Red Wine Hot Chocolate thanks to this recipe from the California Wine Institute.

Way back on the first day of Christmas, I presented the Raspberry Port Sparkler featuring California Wines. They're helping us out again with this delicious chocolate and red wine treat. This has all those flavors of Christmas, including brown sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon. But then it blends with deep red, fruit-forward California wines, such as Merlot or Zinfandel.

Christmas Cocktails - Red Wine Hot Chocolate

Red Wine Hot Chocolate made with California Wines. Photo courtesy the California Wine Institute

Choosing the Best Wines for the Red Wine Hot Chocolate

Choosing the right wine will change the drink. The Zin will add a bit of zing to your drink. California Zinfandels have deep flavors with a touch of black pepper and cloves on the palate. The Merlot has deep red fruit flavors with a hint of spice.

You'll want good quality wine for this recipe, but it doesn't need to be super expensive because you're blending it with other ingredients. If you want a Merlot, I suggest the Sandstone Merlot by Wente Vineyards. If you prefer a Zinfandel, I'm a big fan of Seghesio Family Vineyards, based in Healdsburg. These are both available at most popular wine stores.

Looking for the perfect book to help you plan recipes that celebrate the best of California's wine and harvest? Get your copy of Wine Country Table: With Recipes that Celebrate California's Sustainable Harvest on Amazon.

Creating the Red Wine Hot Chocolate

Pour yourself a mug of Red Wine Hot Chocolate and sit back and enjoy the season. I adore toasted marshmallows and that makes this perfect for me. The smell of chocolate and warm wine always takes me back to my teenage years growing up in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. There was a lovely apres-ski restaurant at the base of the ski mountain all those years ago. I wasn't old enough to drink at the time, but as I crossed the patio on a cold winter day, I could smell hot chocolate and hot wine. That flavor combination takes me back to winters of the late 1970s. It definitely has me thinking of home this Christmas. This one makes about six mugs of red wine hot chocolate.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 1 750-ml bottle fruit-forward California red wine, such as Merlot or Zinfandel
  • Toasted marshmallows or whipped cream, for serving
Directions for Slow Cooker Method
  1. Whisk the chocolate chips, brown sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and milk together in a slow cooker set on high.
  2. Cover and allow to come to temperature (10-15 minutes).
  3. Whisk again and add wine.
  4. Cook on high for one hour, stopping to whisk every 20 minutes.
  5. Ladle hot chocolate into mugs and top with whipped cream or marshmallows and enjoy.
Directions for Stovetop Method
  1. Whisk the chocolate chips, brown sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt together in a large saucepan or stockpot.
  2. Add milk and bring to a low simmer over medium-low heat, whisking often.
  3. Once the hot chocolate is blended and smooth (about 8-10 minutes), reduce to low and add wine.
  4. Cook for 5 minutes more.
  5. Ladle hot chocolate into mugs and top with whipped cream or marshmallows and enjoy.

There are more great cocktails for the holidays on Wander. Be sure to check out all 12 Days of Christmas Cocktails on Wander.

On the 11th day of Christmas Cocktails, I'm sipping something warm, chocolate, and delicious... a Red Wine Hot Chocolate thanks to this recipe from the California Wine Institute. #Christmas #cocktails #wine #CaliforniaWine #recipes #holidays

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