One recipe to rule them all. One recipe to find them. One recipe to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
Ok, so a Lord of the Rings marathon may not be part of your festive rituals but I bet that making mulled wine is. This recipe is totally foolproof and is worth making for the aroma alone. I often leave the batch simmering for longer than I should to let the Christmassy smell fully permeate every room.
To make 4+ mugs you’ll need:
- 2 pots
- A bottle of wine (or a selection of apple and pomegranate juice if you prefer no booze)
- 500ml orange juice – no bits, the cheap and cheerful kind
- Brown sugar
- A tea bag
- Mulling spice bag (or two)
- Cinnamon sticks (optional)
Fire up that hob to a gentle heat, chuck the entire bottle of wine into your favourite pot and get your playlist on the go. I thoroughly recommend The Beach Boys or The Carpenters Christmas Album – warning – may cause dodgy kitchen dancing.
In the other pot, add about a litre of water and encourage her to a rolling boil. Add your mulling spice bags; I think two bags is the Goldilocks amount, but alter as you see fit. You can pick these up in most supermarkets but I reckon a jar of handcrafted ones would make a thoughtful and cost effective present for someone special. Turn the heat down and leave those spices to steep and simmer.
Eat a mince pie. Yes, this is part of the recipe. I’ll allow a hearty slice of Stollen or gingerbread instead. In the time it’s taken you to have a tasty treat, we should have a nice mulling liquor ready. To this, add your orange juice, 5 tbsp of brown sugar and a splash of gin. You can use any tipple you fancy: brandy, port and whisky work well too. Keep an eye on the vino in the other pan – don’t let her reach a boil.
Grab a lemon and rock and roll it over a hard surface before squeezing a little into the mulling liquor. Finally, add a regular English Breakfast teabag – this is the magic ingredient. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes – the future you will be so glad that you did.
Once 10 minutes is up, discard the teabag from the pot and pour your delicious, boozy, fruity potion into the warmed red wine. Slice up the remaining lemon and segment some orange, (or – hack alert – go with a couple of easy peelers). Gently stir these into the winey elixir. Finish with a couple of cinnamons sticks if you feel inclined.
Serve in mugs or heatproof glasses (the kind used for lattes – don’t serve in a regular wine glass. I made the mistake of doing that one year; it was painful). You can leave the mulled wine on the hob with lid on, ready to be heated for guests and feed her more wine throughout the evening if she looks a little low. The same is also true for me during the holidays.
If Covid means you’re unable to visit or receive family and friends this Christmas and are feeling a bit glum about it, why not try this delicious concoction as an outdoor drink? Wrap-up warm, enjoy the crisp wintery air carrying your Thermos mug of mulled wine from which you regularly sip as you sit on your front stoop, or take a wander around your neighbour, decoration-spotting and wishing those you pass a Merry Christmas. You’ll be spreading good cheer and the unmistakable aroma of mulled wine. Go on, you know you want to. ~L.