Christmas is around the corner, and we get to look forward to warm drinks by the fire, Christmas markets and special times with friends and family. There are certain smells and flavour that immediately ignite the Christmas spirit. What better way to kick off the festive season than with a pot of mulled wine brewing on the stove, flooding the house with smells of cherries, spices and citrus? Or even mulled cider with whiffs of apple and cinnamon lingering in the air? You can put a personal twist onto these festive hot drinks. Still, there are some essential ingredients you absolutely cannot go without.
Which Wine is Best to Use for Mulled Wine?
For the perfect mulled wine, you need to look for red wines that are heavily fruit-driven and relatively young. Often Italian reds are ideal as they are light on the palate and usually don’t have a robust oaky flavour. A young Merlot or Shiraz is the best option as they have notes of dark fruit and cherries, but also spicy undertones that will add depth to your mulled wine. Unoaked red wines are ideal as their fruitiness is more emphasised than in oaked wines.
Mulled Wine Recipe
This recipe contains all the basics you need for the perfect mulled wine. If you want to, add unique ingredients to make the recipe your own. In the spirit of Christmas, a personal touch is always special.
- 1 bottle red wine
- 60g treacle sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Pinch of grated nutmeg
- 1 orange, sliced into discs
- 1 dried bay leaf
- Pour the wine into an appropriately sized saucepan.
- Before heating, add the orange, sugar, and bay leaf, and put the wine in a saucepan with the orange, treacle sugar, bay leaf and the spices.
- On a low heat, stir until the sugar has dissolved. Taste to see if the wine is sweet enough. If you feel the wine should be sweeter, add more treacle sugar to taste.
- After about 20 minutes, remove the brew from the heat.
- Strain into heatproof glasses.
- Serve with leftover spices and orange slices as garnishes.
Ways to Add Your Personal Touch
Treat your mulled wine as a craft. You will find the right balance of flavours through trialling and eliminating different ingredients and infusions. There are plenty of optional extras you can add to your brew to give the beverage some added zing. Additional ingredients can include other spices, cloves, spirits and fruits. Here are some ideas for you to try out to get your perfect mulled wine.
Give your mulled wine an extra kick with some added liqueur. The best ones to add are sloe or damson gin. Damson gin is deep in colour, and often people make it themselves. If you are lucky enough to receive a bottle of homemade damson gin as a Christmas present, definitely add this to your mulled wine. The gin is sweet and fruity and will give your mulled wine a festive edge.
Star Anise not only looks appealing in a red wine brew, but it adds an element of sweetness to the drink too. The star-shaped pod is often used to add a liquorice-type flavour to a meat curry dish. Star anise also has a peppery undertone. With the addition of this ingredient, your mulled wine will taste a bit spicier.
Mulled Cider Recipe
Mulled Cider is just as warming and festive as mulled wine. With the apple flavours in the cider, it's the perfect drink to heat up and add spices to for that festive feeling we love so much.
- 2L pressed apple juice
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 whole allspice berries
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 orange, thinly sliced
- 5L dry cider
- Pour the cider, spices, apple juice and sugar into a large saucepan, and gently heat to mull.
- Add the orange slices and spices.
- On a low heat, bring the brew to a simmer, then turn down and keep on a low heat for 20
- Serve while still hot.
Make It Your Own
Mulled cider is the ideal warm beverage for those of you who are not too keen on red wine. It is also lighter and sweeter. Cider also comes in different flavours other than apple. Berry ciders are also great to add to a mulled cider recipe. There are also flavours such as spiced plum which have a very Christmassy taste. There are also some ingredients you can add that will give your mulled cider a personal twist.
If you have a sweet tooth, then you should think about adding apples to your mulled wine brew. The fruit complements the cinnamon sticks well - think apple crumble and strudel. Apples will make your mulled wine the perfect winter, after-meal drink and will warm you up from the inside out. Apples will also absorb the brew and are delectable to eat at the end of your drink.
Calvados is an apple or pear brandy and originates from Normandy in France. Similar to adding damson gin to wine, Calvados will add flavour and kick to your mulled wine. It is naturally fruity in flavour, so is an excellent addition for an enhanced apple flavour.
Does Heating Wine or Cider Make the Alcohol Burn Off?
For the alcohol to evaporate from any drink, you will have to boil the brew for an extended period. As the mixture only simmers on the stove for a short while - no longer than 20 mins at a time - you don’t have to worry about the good stuff evaporating.
These recipes, combined with a personal twist, will warm you head to toe during the festive season. Sip on these beverages while sitting by the fire surrounded by friends and family. Brewing them on the stove will fill the house with all the beautiful smells of Christmas. They are the perfect drink to get you into the Christmas spirit.