How to Make It
Heat cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg in a small skillet over low, stirring often, until toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Transfer spice mixture to a large saucepan over medium-low; stir in wine, orange peel strips, vanilla bean pods, maple syrup, and honey. Slowly bring wine mixture to just below a simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and let steep until spices bloom and infuse into wine, about 30 minutes.
Return saucepan to medium-low; stir in applejack, if desired, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Pour mixture (through a fine wire-mesh strainer, if desired) into a large heatproof bowl. Ladle mulled wine into glasses.