Mulled Wine & Happy Holidays

I started my Christmas prep’s early this year. Why, you ask? Surely you mean: why not? My Christmas tree was up during the last week of November. It might have been on the day of American Thanksgiving. I’m actually working on Christmas this year, which is a bit of a bummer… but it made me go and enjoy the holiday spirit all the more during my daily things this month. I can’t believe we’ve already gotten half way into December and I haven’t once mentioned this year ‘how many days before Christmas’ it is. Oh well, things change eh?

So here it is: my ‘own’ recipe for mulled wine. It doesn’t require you to follow all the steps rigorously. Do however consider your own preferences: make it however sweet, bitter or spice-y as you like. And most of all, please enjoy it.

This recipe may be defined as the embodiment of my “it’s almost Christmas, sod it! Let’s go!”-spirit. There’s a lot I’m very particular and strict about, or at least for myself as I think Christmas should always be enjoyable first and foremost. I’d like to find the Christ in Christmas, to me he most probably was not white, nor Christian, and he hated capitalism. Which to me means to actually spend time with those I love and care for, presents are fun… but not necessary. Please don’t let this time be spoiled by a mountain of bills, annoying relatives you feel obligated to engage with or busy work schedules. Take care of yourself, ok?

This recipe is probably one of the easiest you’ll find out there: no fuss required! The moment you feel any kind of stress about the upcoming events: you need to chill the f out. And maybe pour yourself a little bit of this. But only if that’s your thing, of course. And never too much if you want to keep things fun!

Let’s get through the ingredients before actually talking you through the recipe.

Red wine: definitely nothing expensive, supermarkets offer their own label in litre bottles: that’s usually my go-to.
Oranges: mandarins are my favourite as their smell remind me of autumn, but any kind of orange-y citrus will do.
Cinnamon: sticks, always stick to sticks. They look the best: and we kind of are going for a look here.
Cloves & star anise: a.k.a. the spices. Some add vanilla too, but that stuff is expensive and we don’t want to break the bank. Nutmeg and bay leaves are very welcome as well though.
(Additionally, you can skip these — but it’s up to whatever you feel like)
Sugar: or any kind of sweetener like maple syrup, this will make your mulled wine a little more sweet… and for some people more drinkable. It depends how sweet your wine already is and how sweet you’d generally want your mulled wine. I like a certain tangy flavour to mine, but if my other ingredients are too bitter I’d like to use a bit of sugar to smooth it out.
Extra liqueur (not pictured): only if you’re feeling fancy, this is completely optional (and not something I usually add). Any kind of favourite will work, but something that will warm your throat would do most perfectly, preferably a brandy or gin.

But, as I said earlier: it’s all up to your own tastes to add a little, or top things off with different garnishing. As an additional perk, this stuff will make your house smell so darn flipping wonderful. It’s a bit like the festive alternative to how apple-pie makes the house smell homely.

Ok, let’s get to the nitty-gritty so you can make this beautiful concoction on your own.

Ingredients
1-2 bottles of red
1-2 oranges and or mandarins
2-3 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
6 cloves
1 nutmeg
1-3 table spoons caster sugar (optional!)
extra liquor like brandy or gin (optional!)

Method

1. Peel large sections of peel from one orange, and and slice however many oranges you like (I did 1 here, and 1 mandarin).

2. Pour out the red wine in a medium/large saucepan, add in the orange peels, orange slices, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg. If you like to add sugar, I’d add it in this step.

3. Heat just barely to a simmer over medium-high heat. Be careful not to boil bring to a boil, you simply do not want to boil off the alcohol.

4. Reduce heat to a medium-low, and let the wine simmer for at least 15 minutes to an hour or so.

5. If you are using an additional liqueur, now’s the time to either stir it into the mulled wine — or pour a bit in the glasses to ‘top it off’ with the mulled wine.

6. Mulled wine is best served when it’s warm and delicious, so when you’re ready to serve ladle it into heatproof glasses and serve. If you don’t like bits in your drink: strain before serving. — And if you’re not ready to drink right away… let it cool, store in the fridge and re-heat on the stove when you have your party.

And that’s it! I think it’s best served on a relaxed [whatever-day] afternoon, around 4-ish with a bit of cheese, charcuterie and olives. Or together with friends and family who you genuinely love and care for! But then again, whenever suits you best! — I just had mine here with a little chocolate, because who can resist a little red wine with chocolate!? (probably a lot of people, but you get the gist! Sod it! It’s almost Christmas!)

Happy cooking, and happy holidays! x