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Hungary for Wine Syrup

This week I decided to keep things simple with a recipe for simple syrup — with wine, of course. The great thing about “wine syrup” — I’ll spare you the puns this time around — is its incredible versatility.  You can drench your Saturday morning waffles in this liquid confection, drizzle it on your ice cream or sweeten up your coffee.  And while eating it may be the best part, preparing the syrup is a breeze too. Using some of your wine collection is a win-win situation – so let’s get to it already!

With so  many recipes recycling left over reds and whites are floating around the interwebs, there’s really never an excuse to waste a drop of wine. But since I stepped into the kitchen with the intention to make me some good syrup, I decided to experiment with a bottle of dessert wine. Don’t worry, I opened the bottle before I started cooking – glass is definitely not part of the ingredient list (this time).

Fortunately, what I had wasn’t just any sweet wine, but 2004 Dobogó Mylitta Tokaji. Tokaji refers to the name of wines grown in the Tokaj-Hegyalja region in Hungary and Slovakia, and the most famous ones are quite sweet. But how sweet are they? Well, a distinct measurement was actually created to denote that sweetness. It’s called “puttonyos” and they go from three to six, increasing in sugar level with each number. Be still, my sweet tooth.

The particular wine I was working tasted of sweet fruits, citrus and general heaven, all of which I used to inform which additional ingredients I would include in the syrup. Simple syrup can be as basic as sugar and water: boiled, simmered, cooled, enjoyed. But when you add wine to the mix, you may as well add a few more more flavors.

For my version of wine syrup, I adapted a recipe from Real Simple magazine. I chose to supplement my sweet wine with sugar, vanilla extract, shredded ginger and a dash of cinnamon. The difficulty of prep work from here is really up to you. Blame it on a lazy Sunday, but I chose medium.

First, I cut a small knob of ginger and shredded it – about ½ a teaspoon total. Next, I poured two cups of the Tokaji wine and 2/3 cup of sugar into a medium saucepan. To this I added ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract – but if you want to kick it up a bit, you can also take a vanilla bean pod, scrape out the inside and put the inside grinds and the bean into the mix. Delicious, I’m sure, but extract just felt right (read: easier) this time.

After the vanilla, I added that ½ teaspoon of ginger I was all about a few paragraphs back. Last, I sprinkled a dash of cinnamon over the mix. You know, for fun! Give the mixture a little stir, put it on your stove top and set the heat to high. Then you wait…for three or four minutes. Once the concoction boils, turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 40 minutes until it thickens and reduces to about a cup.

Last step — yes, that’s right, we’re already at the last step — is pour it into a container and let it cool in the fridge for a few hours. The syrup will apparently thicken when cool. Makes sense, and far be it from me to argue with sense.

I ended up with a sweet amber-colored syrup ready to drizzle and dab. For the inaugural run, I poured it all over a bowl of plain Greek yogurt and convinced myself the snack was still healthy. Healthy or not, it was sweet in every sense of the word.

Ingredient List: Hungary for Wine Syrup

2 cups of Tokaji or Dessert Wine of Your Choice

2/3 cups of Sugar

1/2 teaspoon of Grated Ginger

½ teaspoon of Vanilla Extract (or one Vanilla Bean)

A Dash of Cinnamon

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