It's feeling particularly wintery at the moment and as I say goodbye to Dry July this weekend, my thoughts have been turning to a big, steaming mug of mulled wine.
For those heading off to the snow or a weekend away, prepare to make a large pot of this very effective internal warmer.
Mulled wine has been around for centuries and while many of us associate it with Germany or northern Europe, it was in fact the Romans who heated their wine to get them through the arduous task of conquering the world. We forgive them, because they spread their knowledge of viticulture as they went.
Mulled wine is always very popular during northern Christmases and no less important for those who live in cooler climes and are are looking for a way to stay warm while enjoying a good tipple.
The basis of a good mulled wine is always a good quality red wine. Choose a medium-bodied one that is not high in tannins such as Merlot. Full-bodied, smokey and leathery wines will taint the end product.
Create a sugar syrup with the spices and orange juice before adding the red wine. Heat orange juice and sugar over a low heat stirring continuously. Add cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise. Vanilla pods can be added for extra flavour. Once this is all combined and the kitchen smells like a Christmas market, then add a bottle of red wine and keep stirring.
Because alcohol boils at around 75 degrees and water at 100, as soon as the pot of wine begins to boil, alcohol will be boiled off as steam. This is fine, if younger children are going to have a sip or two or if you are driving.
If not, you are then at liberty to add a tot or two of brown spirits, such as rum or brandy to the final product.
Serve with a slice of orange in a thick glass with a handle (it's hot) and enjoy.
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