Wow, the snow! Its kind of exciting..
The nights are getting longer; the days are getting considerably colder. Bonfire night has come and gone, and the Christmas lights are blinking on Oxford Street. There is no denying it; winter is upon us.
And with all this snow comes the inevitable thoughts of Mulled Wine...
I went to pick up some useful tips from Fortnum and Mason's Peter Casey, on how to create the perfect warming winter wine. And I couldn’t think of a nicer place to learn than Fortnum and Maison, bedecked with glittering boules and decadent Christmas decorations.
Mulled wine and Fortnum and Maison are both things that fill me with great joy- there is something about the smell of warm wine and spices that is incredibly comforting, and I have a soft spot for Fortnum and Maison anytime of the year. But around Christmas time it is even more quintessentially British and magical- I highly recommend it, even if you just take a look at their beautiful themed Christmas window displays as you pass by.
* Start with one litre of Orange Juice, diluted with water if you so wish.
* Add half a cup of sugar to this and let it dissolve in. Mulled wine can tend to be slightly bitter, so the sugar really is necessary to bring out the flavour and sweeten it a bit.
* When adding the sugar, Peter warns against using white sugar, but to instead recommends using Golden Caster Sugar. White sugar doesn’t dissolve in the same way and won’t give you the nice syrupy texture of Golden Caster.
* Start with just the juice/water and the sugar as you really wouldn’t want to add the wine too early in the mulling process and burn off the alcohol. Stir the liquid over a low heat until it begins to get syrupy. Mull for 15 minutes.
* Add the mulled wine bundles now. You can buy these almost anywhere! The amount you use depends on the wine you are using- if you are using a soft wine (A Cote de Rhône or Merlot make for a good wine for mulling) then you should use three bundles. For a stronger wine, use two.
* When adding the bundles, also add the cloves, lime and orange peel, fresh apple and orange slices and
* Stir for a while longer and allow to mull. You can leave this for as long as you like- it’s good for the flavours to infuse. If it starts to reduce too much, then simply add a bit of water.
* Now is a good time to add your wine. Pour in a full bottle and mull for at least fifteen more minutes. There is no maximum time for this- patience is a virtue- as long as the heat is turned down low enough for the wine to simmer without boiling. As I mentioned, it’s important to make sure you don’t boil away the alcohol!
* If you prefer a stronger, traditional mulled wine, you can also add a splash of Brandy to warm you up.
**I’ve noticed the past few years that mulled cider has been increasingly popular and is often now served in pubs and markets. If you’re more of a cider person then you may want to try this. The recipe is much the same, but instead of orange peel and lime, you may want to use chopped apple and extra cinnamon. Replace the Brandy with a generous splash of Calvados.
You can also make a non alcoholic mulled wine for children or non-drinkers using apple juice and non alcoholic ginger wine, following the same technique as the mlled cider. It’s pretty good! **
If you have any other tips and suggestions, or a different way of doing it- please share the wealth- Enjoy.
Thanks to Peter Casey for his time and advice, and also to Natalie, my research assistant, on this post!