England is fucking cold in Winter, and this year we’ve had two decent snows before Christmas. We were thinking about what to drink on Christmas day, and one particular drink came top of mind. Mulled wine. The perfect combination of alcohol and warm to soothe and inebriate throughout a long Christmas day, and bundle you up in happy contentment for the night.
We decided to do a test run while planning Christmas dinner, we hadn’t made mulled wine before and wanted to give ourselves a chance to perfect the recipe before the big day. And, it was a good excuse to make a batch and have a drink. We checked out a piece reviewing recipes in the Guardian by Felicity Cloake, who had done a lot of the work for us in terms of trying out different recipes. After some deliberation we decided to follow the Jamie Oliver recipe. Mr’s Beeton’s wasn’t quite doing it for us. Even though we had the best intentions we didn’t follow it perfectly, and ended up halving the recipe as we needed to get in some serious Christmas business. But, we have put together our own little take on things – our official recipe is at the end of the post and we assure you it is de-li-cious!.
Most of the recipes had the basics of citrus, spice and sugar but we chose Jamie’s recipe because we liked his style of creating a spicy syrup first. Basically you create your spicy syrup with a little bit of wine, then add the rest of the wine once you’ve finished it. If you do it all in one go you run the risk of burning off alcohol is the last thing we wanted to do. According to Jamie making the syrup first also means you really get all the sugar, citrus and spice well and truly infused into the wine – sounded good to us.
His recipe called for Chianti or red Italian wine, luckily I had grabbed a few bottles of Ogio which did the job. I got turned onto Ogio when I first arrived in London by Natasha whose advice is simply “buy this wine when it’s on special”. It’s a delicious easy drinker, but that’s another review, back to the mulling.
We got stuck into peeling the lemon and orange and tossing in the cloves and cinnamon. We were slightly concerned about adding the Bay leaf, but as we had some on hand added it to the brew. I have to admit we didn’t really notice if it actually did anything however we will continue to use them. We didn’t include the lime, I have no idea why I think we got too excited and forgot. We’d also missed the star anise off the shopping list so substituted a green cardamon pod and some freshly grated ginger (about a teaspoon) which were featured in other recipes and did the trick nicely. As we had some really nice vanilla essence on hand we skipped using a proper vanilla pod. Making the syrup was a lot of fun and smelled divine, it filled the house with a fantastic spicy scent.
We found once you add the wine you do have to wait a bit for the mix to get to heat, I was a bit impatient. Kerrily kept me under control, but all in all it didn’t take long at all. From start to finish including the prep it took less than half an hour – not bad.
As there was only two of us, we halved the two bottles of wine to one and made some adjustments. Although we halved the content of the sugar we didn’t strictly halve the fruit so it was a bit sweeter than we would have liked and we would recommend less sugar – using 200g (or even less) rather than the full 250g of sugar called for in the recipe. We also used an orange instead of clementines, so it was very citrusy. I liked it, but Kerrily felt for the amount of wine the taste was a little over powering. We recommend sticking to clementines or using one orange to substitute clementines for the full recipe of two bottles.
Would we make it again? Yes. It’s our official Christmas drink for 2010!
And, if you’re sick of all the crap re-works of Christmas classics by the latest b-grade celebrities check this funk and soul Christmas mix! Santa’s got a brand new bag.
Our official recipe is below, adjusted for maximum deliciousness.
Wineho’s mulled wine
2 bottles of Ogio or other red wine
2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger
2 green cardamon pods (or try the star anise a la Jamie)
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
2 clementines or 1 orange (use the peel and add the juice)
150 – 200g of caster sugar (depends on if you like sweet or not)
Half a teaspoon of quality vanilla essence (we used a Dr Oetker with vanilla seeds in it)
1. Peel your citrus fruits and add the peels, sugar, juice and spices to your pot and turn on the heat.
2. Add a splash of your wine to cover everything and bring it to the boil for about five minutes until the sugar has melted.
3. Add the rest of your wine and slowly bring it to heat, this should take at least five minutes.
P.S. Remember to be careful when ladling your deliciousness into glasses, hot red wine is death to nice clothes.