You can sort of skimp on the quality of your wine, since you'll be doctoring it.
A lot of spice and no sugar (we use agave syrup, lower on the glycemic index) lends a clean, mild flavor to this holiday classic.
10 whole cloves
6 black peppercorns
zest from 1 lemon, in big strips
zest from 1 large orange, in big strips
2 cinnamon sticks (each about 2″ long)
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
2 bottles dry red wine (about 7 cups)
1 cup kirsch
2 cups water
1 cup mild agave syrup
1. Tie the cloves, peppercorns, zest, cinnamon and vanilla in a piece of cheesecloth (you can also use a coffee filter). Or you can just throw everything in the pot, but be careful later when you drink the wine.
2. Combine the “spice bag” with the other ingredients in a large pot.
3. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat as low as it can go and let it quietly bubble away for at least 20 minutes, up to a few hours.
4. Ladle it into glasses and serve.
This dish is quick, simple and light. The fish takes 10 minutes to cook, and the caponata tastes best when made ahead. This recipe makes extra caponata: It’s great on crostini or served with eggs for breakfast.