Riddle: What smells like elixir, tastes like candy and poisons like a spider?
6 jiggers red wine
4 jiggers spiced cider
1 jigger brandy
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange slice
2 tsp sugar
Mix liquids and sugar in a mug and stir with the cinnamon stick. Heat in a microwave for less than two minutes. Affix an orange slice to the mug just before serving.
The earthy flavors of Rioja or Bordeaux will add more character to the drink than will the cherry or berry notes of cheap California merlot or zinfandel. (Keep in mind that heating wine evaporates its finer points and accentuates its faults.)
Spiced cider recipes vary. I like those calling for allspice, cloves, cinnamon, orange and lemon zest. Be aware that using too much zest can overwhelm the apple and too many cloves can numb your tongue.