WINTER WARMER Mulled wine, with its evocative winter spices, is the perfect Christmas drink.
Occasionally, when it’s super cold outside and you need a serious boost of warmth, a cup of tea will simply not do. Through the bitter cold weeks in the midst of winter in Ireland’s west, we seek solace in all things warm and fuzzy. My column this week aims to help you to attain that inner warmth – by drinking a splendid hot drink, of course.
Mulled wine is in essence hot, sweetened red wine, with an aromatic twist of citrus fruits and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
The origins of mulled wine date back to ancient Roman times, when wine, like food, was heavily seasoned with many spices for preservation. There is no exact recipe for mulled wine; it varies from country to country and from person to person.
Although the Romans are credited with producing the first versions of this much-loved Christmas tipple, its popularity spread far and wide. Today, mulled wine has different names across the world. In Sweden, it is called ‘Gløg,’ whereas in Germany they call it ‘Glühwein’.
With its evocative winter spices, mulled wine is the perfect Christmas drink, guaranteed to bring a flush to the cheeks and an appreciative smile to the lips.
- One bottle of red wine
- 6-8 whole cloves
- 2 oranges
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- 170g brown caster sugar
- ½ cup of brewed breakfast tea
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ¾ tsp grated ginger
- One vanilla pod de-seeded
Start your preparation by preheating your oven to 175 ºC. Pierce one of the whole oranges with your cloves and put it in the oven for just under 20 minutes.
Squeeze the juice of your other orange. Begin by simmering the water and sugar on a low heat in a saucepan and stir until dissolved. When this is ready, place the cinnamon sticks in the pot to infuse. Let the cinnamon, water and sugar mingle together until it reaches a syrup consistency. This will only take a few minutes.
Once the orange is baked in the oven for 20 minutes, focus on your wine by putting it in a separate saucepan on a low heat. Gather all of your ingredients, including the baked orange, syrup, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and tea, and add them to the pan of wine. Let the wine and all the ingredients that are infusing heat up (but not boil) for around 25 minutes.
Remove the cinnamon, vanilla and whole orange. Gather your juice from the other orange and stir into the wine. Strain the mulled wine, and serve.
Philip Dunne is Head Sommelier at Ashford Castle, Cong. Trained by the Court of Master Sommeliers, he is part of the team voted the Best Wine Experience in Ireland 2016 at the Restaurant Association Awards in Ireland.