It is almost Christmas and time to get into the seasonal spirit or more correctly seasonal Mulled Wine. Outside the office today was the first day of the Jersey Christmas Market and the air was heavy with spices, the smells of mulled wine and cider. Mulled Wine and similarly Mulled Cider are popular drinks over the Christmas season. They are served hot, often sweetened with sugar or honey and flavoured with a variety of spices, oranges, and lemons. You don’t have to worry about the alcohol either as much of it evapourates as the wine is warmed, although if you want you can add a slug of port or brandy to give it kick. It is very similar to the Germany Glühwein, which was first recorded in the early fourteen hundreds and is drunk today often with spiced gingerbread.
Mulled wine has changed over time with the vagaries of taste and fashion, one of the more traditional recipes was recorded by Mrs. Beeton in her famous cookery book using cloves, mace, and nutmeg. It also lists the wines to be mulled as claret and port, I reckon a tankard of hot port would pack quite a punch, however. Today you can buy the spices already prepared as a sugar-based syrup or in little bags like T-bags and they are usually a combination of citrus peel, ground clove, cinnamon pieces, nutmeg, star anise and ginger. In recipes, I have seen bay leaves, cardamom and vanilla pods included so really you can experiment until you are happy. Personally, I think that would be quite a nice way to spend an afternoon.
enough for 4 small or 2 large glasses
1 bottle good Red Wine
60 gr Demerara Sugar
1 Cinnamon Stick
A pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg
1 orange, sliced into 1 centimeter slices
60ml Port, Brandy or Sloe Gin (optional)
Put the wine in a saucepan with the orange, sugar, and the spices. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Taste to see if you want the wine sweeter, and add more sugar to taste.
Off the heat, stir in the sloe gin, port or brandy if you are using it. Strain into heatproof glasses and serve at once.