18 Dec Mulled Wine
Can I confess to being sadly disappointed most of the time with the mulled wine that is served in England? I love the idea of a warming, fragrant and spicy alcoholic drink in the cold winter months. I picture a sort of Victorian bon homie with wassailers wrapped in stripy scarves singing carols around a Christmas tree whilst cupping steaming glasses of mulled wine. I scent my home with mulled wine spices and I order it when it is offered in pubs after frosty walks. The sad truth is, however, it is frequently quite nasty. Unlike our European brethren who make Glühwein and vin chaud to die for, in England more often than not it is an insipid lack-lustre cousin, made with inferior plonk and watered down to the point of tastelessness.
So a few years ago I embarked on a mission – to find a recipe that I really liked ( and that my husband would not consider a waste of good red). After quite a few wasted bottles, we found this recipe from Felicity Cloak ( if you haven’t read her recipes and columns in The Guardian, you have a treat in store). Even my wine –
-ponce -loving husband enjoys the occasional winter warmer when made to this recipe.
2 large oranges
The zest of 1 lemon (peeled in large strips)
150g caster sugar
5 whole cloves and some extra for garnish
5 cardamom pods, bruised
1 cinnamon stick
1 pinch of grated nutmeg
2 bottles of fruity red wine ( such as Cote du Rhone or Beaujolais)
150ml ginger wine
Take one of the oranges and peel and juice it. Add it to a large saucepan with the lemon zest, sugar and spices. Add enough wine to cover the sugar and heat until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally. Bring it to the boil and heat for 5-8 minutes until a thick syrup has formed in the pan.
Alternatively if you want to be prepare ahead of time, you can place the syrup in a sterilised bottle in the fridge for use at a later date. This forethought would have the added advantage of leaving you with a considerable amount of open red wine that would, of course, need immediate consumption by the chef. It is Christmas after all!