Spice up your merry “little” Christmas with some homemade mulled wine!
If you’re anything like me, a spiced mulled wine is as much a part of Christmas as Santa himself. Over the last couple of decades, Christmas markets have been springing up all over the UK, taking over town centres and adding that extra Christmas cheer to our no-longer snowy winters. Whilst they may not be as elaborate as the originals in Germany they have become a sensationally popular taste of the alps, without the airfare. Not, however, this year!
2020 has been a total write-off for most of the world and now we are left with a Christmas unlike any other. Unable to have the usual mass gatherings of family and friends, fear of infecting grandparents and being left with another devastating lockdown. It really is going to be little. Fear not though, as it can certainly still be merry! The usual all-day cooking session to feed the whole family won’t be required this year, so you’ll have plenty of time to focus on quality over quantity. What better place to start than some homemade mulled wine!
Mulled wine has been around since the second century, originally a Roman libation of choice to keep them warm as they conquered the cold continental winters of Europe. They added spices to help ward off winter illnesses (note: may not work against the coronavirus 😉 Romans were well known for their love of wine and as they spread across Europe they would spread their knowledge of viniculture and the great wine regions of Europe were born and the mulled wine tradition began. The name possibly comes from the word ‘mawlen’ which in Middle English means ‘to grow mouldy’ as in the human body. It’s safe to say that we aren’t relying on its potential medicinal properties anymore!
So how do you create this festive favourite?
There are lots of recipes out there and many different names from Gluhwein in Germany to Glogg in Scandinavia, each with their own unique variations. The first thing to consider is which red wine to use? I’d say it would really need to be something quite strong with lots of fruit and a quite high tannin to handle the spices and heating. So, something like a Californian Zinfandel, a Garnacha or a Syrah would be ideal.
Over the years working in wine bars, the recipe I’ve used has varied over time, but this is the favourite:
Mulled Wine Ingredients
What will you need?
- 1 x bottle of red wine
- 100g of caster sugar
- 50ml of cognac
- 100ml of orange juice
- 2 x cinnamon sticks
- 2 x star anise
- t-spoon of mixed spice
- handful of cloves
How To Make Mulled Wine?
- Add a small amount of the red wine (150ml) to the pan with the sugar, bring to the boil. Then add the cinnamon, star anise, mixed spice, cloves. This will create an infused base syrup.
- Next add the remainder of the red wine, orange juice and cognac. Simmer this for around 20 minutes but DON’T let it get to boiling as it will just burn off the alcohol.
- After 20 minutes, pass the liquid through a strainer and serve. You can garnish the wine with a slice of orange and a cinnamon stick.
If you’re looking to be the host with the most, why not serve with a warm mince pie? For the more adventurous amongst you, it also pairs wonderfully with cheese fondue and French baguette. Trust me it will be worth it for all those combined aromas! If you want to cheat it, Emmy does a packet fondue which can be fabulous if you add in some extra white wine, garlic and gruyere, delicious!
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This Christmas might turn out to be very merry indeed.