Mulling it over
After talking about it for so long, and drinking it far too much, it’s only fair I include a recipe for mulled wine. It seems there are as many ways to make this as there are occasions to drink it, but here is how I make it. For me, the key is the orange as that adds a really great tangy zestiness to the wine. The spices are secondary, as overly spiced wine seems a bit sickly to me. Still the cardamom, cinnamon and pepper give it a little spicy heat, without going overboard. Whole spices are crucial, otherwise you end up with bits of scummy ground spice floating on top of the wine (and no, they don’t impart their flavour properly either).
Drink this with anything and everything, and on its own too.
This method is apparently similar to Jamie Oliver’s, in that you make a syrup first with a small amount of the wine, before adding the rest of the wine later. The reason for doing this is so you don’t end up boiling off all the alcohol when you’re infusing all the lovely citrusy, spicy flavours.
1 bottle red wine
5 tablespoons sugar
1 orange, quartered
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 cardamom pod
2 black peppercorns
2-3 tablespoons brandy
1. Stud the cloves into one of the orange quarters.
2. In a large saucepan put the sugar, orange quarters, cinnamon, cardamom and peppercorns. Add about 150ml of the wine and bring to a low boil for about 10 minutes, or until all the sugar has dissolved and it smells very cinnamoney and citrusy.
3. Add the rest of the wine and turn down the heat to low. When the wine starts to steam, and small frothy bubbles are showing on the surface (another 10 minutes or so) add the brandy. Give it a stir, leave for 2 minutes and then serve.