“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.
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
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.
Time Taken: 15 minutes
|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)
- 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.
- 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.