With the mercury still low, we all enjoy getting warm and cosy with a warm drink. What better way to enjoy a chilly winter evening than with a warm cup of mulled wine in front of the fire (or, for those of us without a house and chimney, a gas-heater-that-looks-like-a-fake-fireplace)? So, rather than tell you about our favourite wines this month, we thought we’d share our favourite recipe for mulled wine. Now, truth be told, we are terrible with measurements so writing a recipe will be a bit of a challenge. Lucky for us, it’s fairly hard to mess up mulled wine – unless you start with bad wine. So please take these instructions as a ‘rough guide’ and experiment with your own concoction.
To start with, choose a red wine that has a good amount of fruit. A young merlot or cabernet sauvignon will do just fine. We used Zema Estate’s Cluny, which we picked up on our last trip to Coonawarra. The Cluny is blend of cab sav, merlot, cabernet franc and malbec. The bottle we had on hand was from the 2006 vintage and possessed an intense red berry flavour.
Photos courtesy of http://www.zema.com.au
Next, prepare the ‘flavourings’ and lightly bruise/break up the hard spices. You don’t need to crush – a couple of hard pounds in a mortar and pestle will do just fine.
- 1 large stick of cinnamon
- 2 cloves
- 1 star anise
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cardamom pods
- 1-2 tsp brown sugar (or more if you like it very sweet; we don’t)
- ½ tsp orange zest
- ¼ tsp lemon zest
- Freshly squeezed juice of ½ orange (or perhaps 1 orange if its not very juicy)
If you don’t have all of the above handy, don’t fret, just leave it out. Will it alter the flavour? Yes. Does it matter? No. But if you do decide to buy the spices you can also make yourself a nice cup of masala chai next time!
Now here’s how to do it:
- Pour about ¼ of the bottle of wine into a saucepan and bring to heat. Once warm, add all of your flavourings except for the orange juice.
- Keep the wine over the heat for around 10 minutes to let the spices infuse – try not to bring the wine to boil, but you do need to keep it hot so that the flavours are released from the spices. The reason we don’t add the whole bottle right away is that we don’t want to burn off all the alcohol. If it starts to evaporate too much, add a few more splashes of wine from the bottle.
- Once you’re happy with the aroma of the spices, add the rest of the wine and the orange juice and allow it to heat through, then turn off the heat immediately.
- Your mulled wine is ready to strain and serve. At this point we should probably be saying something responsible like, “Serves 4”. Good luck with that!