The spicy wafting aroma of mulled wine on a chilly winter’s evening gives a festive air to even the gloomiest of weather. The warming spices of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg and tangy zest of orange brighten up a plain red wine and put you in the mood for celebrating Christmas.
There are hundreds of recipes for mulled wine (or gluhwein) and everyone has their own secret ingredient. Maybe a little dash of cognac, or another spice added. The important thing is to get the amount of sugar right. Too much sugar makes it too sickly and cloying, too little and the tartness loses much of the comfort factor that makes mulled wine so warming and festive. So the golden rule is to add less sugar than you think you’ll need, then taste the wine once it is warmed through and add more sugar just until it tastes right for you. Each wine will be different and individual tastes vary, so bask in the heady warmth of wine and spices and stand over your mulled wine tasting little sips until it is just right!
Choosing a wine to mull is another important consideration. You don’t want to use total plonk, but it is a waste to use a well aged bottle of prize wine. Ideally you should use a red wine that is not too tannic, so avoid wines aged in oak, but it should have enough flavour and body to be drinkable on its own. A medium bodied claret, chianti or merlot works well.
Mulled Wine Recipe
2 bottles of medium-bodied red wine
1 cup sugar and more to taste
6 cinnamon sticks
Push the cloves into the skin of the oranges, then cut the oranges in half. Pour the wine into a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan and warm over a medium heat. Add the sugar, spices and clove studded oranges. Keep an eye on the wine and turn the heat to very low as soon as it gets close to simmering. You don’t want it to boil or it will lose its alcohol content! Taste for sugar and add more until it tastes right for you. Keep it steaming over a low heat for an hour or so to allow the spices to infuse. Ladle it into glasses or mugs and breathe in the spicy aroma.
Other things you can add to mulled wine:
Star anise, bay leaves, mace, ginger, cardamom, lemon, lime, brandy.
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