I know that mulled wine can be quite a divisive issue, much like Christmas songs, jumpers or cracker jokes, but for me there is something very pleasing about a good glass of sweetly spiced red wine on a wintry night. It literally reeks of Christmas to me.
It’s not at all difficult to make mulled wine but be careful not to skip any of the steps below as you could potentially end up burning off the alcohol and if you do manage to do that my guess is you’re not going to be asked for a second glass….
We have the Romans to thank for warmly spiced wine so there are a number of historical recipes to hand but some of those require quite unusual spices that may not be to our modern tastes. A quick google for mulled wine recipes throws up the usual suspects with the best advertising budgets as well as some pre-spiced bottles for purchase. I would suggest avoiding the pre-bottled supermarket wine and have a go at your own version first.
When choosing a wine to make into mulled wine I follow the same advice as if I was cooking with wine – use a bottle that you would be happy to drink. If it’s £1.35 a bottle before you heat and spice, it will still be £1.35 a bottle when you’re done. Like burning off the alcohol this embarrassment is best avoided if the finished wine is for sharing with friends. Fruity, unoaked reds are best used here.
The ginger wine is optional, I think it tastes way better with it but I also know most households do not have a bottle to hand so don’t fret about that.
Lots of recipes will tell you to add or subtract your favourite spices too, I have seen recipes with star anise, vanilla pods, bay leaves, allspice and so on. Delia has a habit of using honey as well as Grand Marnier but like the ginger wine I don’t suspect many households keep a bottle in the cupboard.
This recipe is paired back, simple and delicious.
Approx. 10 servings
2 bottles of red wine
150g caster sugar
150ml ginger wine
1 orange or 2 to 3 clementines
Peel of a lemon
5 cardamom pods, crushed
1 cinnamon stick
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Peel the orange or clementines and juice. Put the peel, juice, lemon peel, sugar and spices into a large saucepan and add just enough wine to cover everything.
Heat through on a low temperature stirring occasionally until all of the sugar has dissolved, don’t let it boil until the sugar has all gone. When the sugar has completely dissolved bring the temperature up and let the mixture boil until you have a thick syrupy mixture (about 6 – 8 minutes).
Turn the heat to low again and add the remaining wine including the ginger wine. Give everything a good stir and allow the added wines to warm slightly. Serve straight away.