Cranberry Sauce with Zinfandel, Star Anise and Black Pepper

Cranberry sauce is so fast and flexible, I rarely make the same sauce twice but I always follow the same basic premise. I did the zin version to marry the pouring of a good zinfandel with the turkey. Juniper berries are also good in the mix with zin. See notes at bottom. Makes 1 quart (1 litre)

12 oz. package cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 cups red Zinfandel wine (more may be needed later)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cinnamon sticks
4-6 star anise pods (clusters)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tsp. whole cloves

In a non-reactive saucepan, combine the cranberries, wine, balsamic, cinnamon sticks and anise pods. If you’re unsure about how sweet the sauce will be, begin with 1/2 cup sugar. The rest may be added later to taste. Use a tea ball or cheesecloth bag to hold the peppercorns and cloves. Add to the pot. Bring the berries to boiling then reduce to medium-low.
The cranberries will cook completely in 20-30 minutes, bursting and turning deep red. In the last few minutes of cooking, taste for sugar and stir in more as desired.
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Remove the spices sticks, pods and the peppercorns. Add more wine for a more pronounced Zinfandel taste if desired and adjust the sugar. Store in a clean jar and it will last indefinitely refrigerated.

When matching wine with foods with sugar, be careful not to over-sweeten the berries or the wine will taste flat. I prefer to use dark brown sugar for a deeper flavour; I often adjust the sweetness at the end with maple syrup rather than more sugar.
Rosemary, thyme and bay leaf are fresh herbs that could added to the sauce, all of which are bridge ingredients with Zinfandel.
Adding the extra wine at the end allows the wine to stand out. --Glenys

Source of recipe: Glenys