Adventures in Small Scale Farming in an English Cottage Garden with Seasonal Tips and Recipes
Sunday, 6 December 2009
If you've ever been offered a glass of generic mulled wine at a pre Christmas bash, you will recognize the mouth puckering horrible-ness of the commercial product. I'm convinced most people say they don't like Mulled Wine because they've had the misfortune to be aquainted with the ready made stuff which Mr Supermarket makes with the cheapest rough old plonk, too rough probably to go in a bottle on its own, and whose taste is masked with tongue stripping artificial citrus and spice flavouring.
So get your own cheap plonk - nothing wrong with using an ordinary red wine for mulling, I used Tesco's Sicilian red wine,for our village do, at around £3.30 a bottle it's full flavour makes an excellent mulled wine and is even ok for everyday vin ordinaire type drinking as long as you're not Jancis Robinson. Not the kind of stuff you'd want to offer your friends coming round for dinner, but still ok for Keith Floyd style casseroles (that's one for me and one for the pot, and then maybe another one for me). And a bottle of economy own brand dark rum. I know I seem to be always recomending economy options, - I make no apology for this, it's not that I'm mean you understand, I love a really good red wine, and will enjoy several over Christmas, but I don't believe in splashing out in a situation where most people just can't tell the difference. If you are Oz Clark, then go ahead and use your Chateau Lafitte Rothschild and your matured Jamaica Rum, but I really don't think the rest of us will mind.
1 bottle red wine
2-3fl oz / 50 -75ml dark rum
2 cinnamon sticks broken into pieces
10 allspice berries
1 star anise
about a half inch/1 cm of fresh grated ginger
a good grating of nutmeg
zest of half an orange and half a lemon (peeled off with a potato peeler not grated)
2 oz/60g sugar or up to 3oz/90g if you prefer
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and heat gently until warm enough. Warm enough means warm enough to be a hot drink, but not boiling, as you'll be boiling off the alcohol which you really don't want to do. It's a good idea to heat it gently once and then leave it for an hour or two with the spices in if you can, to get a really good flavour, and then gently re-warm it when you're ready to drink. Pour it through a sieve into a warm jug and serve with your warm mince pies, preferably standing round the village Christmas tree singing Jingle Bells. And think how much money you could have saved Oz and Jancis.
This is a very bad picture of our village christmas tree, I will go out tomorrow and try to get a better one.
And finally it's quite a good idea to have non alcoholic mulled "wine" as an additional option for children, and drivers, which can be easily made from a bottle of Ribena (don't use the low sugar version for this) diluted with hot water, and with a slice or two of orange and a cinnamon stick.