“Everything’s better with some wine in the belly” – Tyrion Linnister, Game of Thrones. 

When I had written the post for the Christmas cake, little did I know that my tribute to one of the favourite songs of mine during my growing up years would also be the last few hours that the legendary singer of that song would celebrate Christmas on Earth.  As strange and dramatic as it may sound, George Michael the legendary singer enjoyed his last Christmas this year.

We ushered in the Christmas with some close friends and relatives and whenever people are called home, Madhushree has springs in her steps and she doesn’t mind going beyond her capacity to create the wow factor for the guests. A whole chicken was roasted, some innovative cranberry chutney was prepared (which will come in the next blogpost) but we wanted to do something different in the drinks section. Beer, Vodka, Whiskey, Rum (Old monk in particular) have been tried and tested.

This year was mulled wine.

Mulled wine recipe ingredients

Ingredients of Mulled wine

We were pretty excited about this as we tried it out at Abcos last Sunday and wanted to make it at home. I didn’t have much knowledge about the wine, so got in touch with Ruma Singh, a former journalist with one of India’s top newspaper groups in Delhi and Bangalore writing over wine, food and lifestyle. She now runs her blog rumasingh.com . She has been the president of Bangalore wine club and considered as one of the stalwarts of the knowledge of wine in India.

As per Ruma

There’s no standardized recipe for mulled wine, and each person who makes it is free to adapt to his/her taste, but most recipes call for:

A decent-quality red wine & Spices – cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves and some fruit – my favourite is citrus fruit, put some of the skin in for added flavour. Simply simmer on the stove-top, and the longer you let the spices infuse into the wine, the more ‘Christmassy” it tastes. Some people I know add a dash of brandy, then again that’s to taste.

Mulled wine recipe 4

The Greek, the Romans and others started having mulled wine as a means to prevent wastage of the wine and they used to dump spices into the leftover wines, warm it up and have it . As Ruma says –
Mulled wine is a very old form of drinking a hot cup of deliciousness around Christmas time – very popular in the Scandinavian countries (they make ‘glogg’ ) or ‘gluhwein in Germany or Alsace. Though restaurants now make it, it’s usual to make it at home – have a saucepan of mulled wine warm in your kitchen and serve before Christmas dinner or right through the cold weather season. It’s delicious and I love it.
In India, it must have been the British to start the tradition – it’s popular in places where the British have made their base, and where British-style Xmas food is popular. 
Since I’m not a stickler for specific pairings (drink for mood, rather than food, esp in the Indian context) any Christmassy/winter foods should work well. But it’s perfect as a aperitif to welcome your guests to a season of happy celebrations!
Here is what we made on that evening. This year, Christmas has been the warmest in the last decade and there has been no chances to take out the blazers and jackets also. It has also been reported that there are lesser number of monkey caps seen on Kolkata roads this year. We had two rounds of helping of the mulled wine and that was enough for the guests to start feeling warm.  But as the tradition and ritual says, we plan to have this prepared and serve whoever is game for it.
Mulled wine recipe 3
Must mention the disaster which happened here.
Once during the making process when the spices were getting simmered, it was supposed to be for fifteen minutes and Madhushree got hooked to the old episodes of Homeland and the entire thing got burnt and almost caught fire. So when you make it please be extra careful and not leave the saucepan on the stovetop unattended.

Mulled Wine

Time Taken: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

Red Wine 2 bottles Star Anise 1-2 nos
Cointreau ½ cup Cinnamon Stick 1 whole
Orange 2 nos Vanilla 1 pod
Lemon 1 medium Caster Sugar 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp
Grated Ginger ½ tsp Nutmeg Powder ½ tsp

(Check the notes below)

Mulled wine recipe - raw produce

Method:

  • In a large saucepan, add cinnamon stick, grated ginger, caster sugar and nutmeg powder.
  • Peel large sections of the lemon and the orange rind and add the rinds to the sauce pan.
  • Add the juice of one whole orange.
  • Then pour the cointreau and about a half a cup of red wine. There should be enough liquid to cover all the ingredients. If required, add more orange juice from the second orange.
  • Split the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the vanilla extract (paste) and add to the saucepan. Also just drop the vanilla pod.
  • Turn on the heat and simmer all the ingredients for about 10 minutes while stirring from time to time. You need to keep a watch over this, even though it is slow cooking.
  • This is the base of the mulled wine. It needs to be dark and syrupy. And the best part about it is the beautiful fruity and spicy aroma that it gives and makes it very celebratory.
  • When the syrup is ready, lower the heat and add the rest of the bottles of wine.
  • Also add the star anise at this point. Since star anise has a very strong flavour, I did not want to add it in the beginning and mask all the other flavours.
  • Now gently simmer for 5 minutes and your mulled wine is ready.
  • Serve it warm in sturdy glasses, preferably with handles and garnish with orange wedges.

Notes:

  • There is no fixed recipe for mulled wine. You need to freestyle and add or delete any spice you want. It all depends on your flavour preference.
  • Using of cointreau is optional. I had half a bottle with me and since cointreau is an orange based liqueur, I thought it would complement the mulled wine with the oranges very well. You can also use brandy in place of cointreau.
  • Although I have written oranges in the ingredients, I actually used a ‘Malta’. It is a variety of orange, mid way between a mandarin and a Clementine. It has no seeds and is very pulpy and usually sweet.
  • Once the entire wine is poured, do not boil it, since the alcohol will evaporate. Just simmering for a little while is enough.
  • For red wine, I have used a Sula Satori Merlot. I believe for mulled wine, the red wine should ideally be a full bodied red wine rather than a one with delicate flavours. So a Merlot or a Shiraz or a Malbec would be ideal.
  • It is possible to store the mulled wine in air tight bottles for a couple of days and reheat in the microwave before drinking. However, I doubt if you will be able to store it for a couple of days. A cold winter night is a perfect time to enjoy a glass of mulled wine….well, a glass may not be enough.

Mulled wine recipe 1