Mulled wine is a wonderful winter warmer and a perfect festive or celebration drink for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Perfect for a sophisticated soiree, it makes an ideal drink with party food or nibbles. A classy and traditional winter brew, the smell of mulled wine cooking has the added benefit of scenting your entire house with warm, woody and spice scents. Delicious!

Mulled wine (as it's known in the UK) is a popular winter drink throughout Europe. In Germany, they make a variation called Glühwein. The Czech republic call it svařené víno, and in northern Italy, it's known as vin brulé.

There are plenty of recipes for mulled wine, but use the ingredients below as your start point. Everyone has a different preference for their mulled wine. Some prefer it sweeter, some more spicy. It's a question of checking as you go and making the necessary adjustments.

Also, bear in mind, that the better the wine you use, the better the end result. That said, it's also great with a mid-price wine. Look for Italian Chianti's, Spanish Riojas or New World Cabernet Sauvignons as a base for your mulled wine.

You will need:

  • 1 bottle good red wine
  • 2oz/60g Demerara or soft brown sugar
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 6 cloves
  • 1/2 grated nutmeg
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 vanilla pod – do not use vanilla essence as a replacement!
  • 1 orange, halved

Add all the ingredients to a pan. Heat through gently (do not boil) until the sugar has dissolved. Leave to stand for 1hr (this gives the spices time to infuse), before gently re-heating to serve. As a variation, you may want to add 2oz of Grand Marnier or Cointreau to the mix, to bring out the citrus flavour and add depth. You can also add star anise or a pinch of fennel seeds for variety.

Serve warm in wine glasses decorated with orange slices and a cinnamon stick. Perfect accompaniments are nuts, olives and other savoury snacks such as cheese and crackers. A sweet alternative would be spiced cookies.

Happy festive drinking!

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