While mulled wine is a common Christmas drink enjoyed in a number of places where it's actually cold at Christmas, it's not so common here in Australia, even during our chilly winters. Cosying up with a mug of something that's both warm and alcoholic is one of the best things you can do on a cold winter's evening -- here's how you can make some.
The best thing about mulled wine (or cider) is that you really don't have to follow the recipe that closely, either. If you like a lot of spice you can add more, or less. You can add more sugar (though it may be best to add this after in a cup-by-cup basis) or you can spike it with plenty of brandy or sherry if you like a good kick. Check out the recipes below.
•2 bottles of red wine (Shiraz and Cabernet work well) •750ml pulp-free orange juice (1/2 as much orange juice as wine) •1 Tbs. cinnamon and 2 cinnamon sticks •1 Tbs. nutmeg •~3 small cubes of fresh ginger. Crush these into the wine using a garlic press. •~3 tablespoons of honey •3-6 heaping tablespoons of cane sugar (or white sugar) •1 orange, halved. (or 1 small orange) •1/4 of a fresh lemon, squeezed over the pot. (Optional, but don’t substitute lemon juice from a bottle.) •12-20 cloves. These should be inserted stem first into the rind of the orange so that only the buds protrude. (You may need to pierce to flesh of the orange with a small knife in order to insert the cloves.) Float the orange in the wine, rind down, so that the cloves are in the wine. •1/2 shot of liquor of your choice
Adapted from the Inn At The Crossroads recipe for Australian ingredients and measurements
If you're not sure about what wine to pick, choose a soft red blend around the $5-10 mark. There's no real need to pick up anything too special, as cheap wine still tastes fine when you add sugar to it.
While the recipe looks quite complicated, it's surprisingly simple to make. The most labour-intensive part of it is sticking the cloves into the orange rind, though it's better to take 5 minutes out to do this than to constantly have to fish cloves out from your wine glass. Once you've done this, just chuck everything in a pot together over medium heat, bring to a simmer but don't boil it, and stir often. Keep it on the heat until the spices and flavours in the wine have infused to your liking, and then serve straight up steaming hot.
You'll notice that not many of the measurements in the recipes are exact -- so make sure to mix and match to your taste. You can add an optional shot (or two) of liquor of your choice -- whether it's brandy, sherry or cognac, or even a liqueur like Cointreau. I've even considered using a locally distilled chilli liqueur to add a bit of spice to the wine, though I haven't had a chance to try it out yet. Just be careful -- the extra alcohol seems to disappear into the hot wine, at least in taste.
What else do you add to your mulled wine? Let us know in the comments!
•1 six-pack cider •750ml apple juice (sparkling or still) •1 bottle ale •1/2 cup maple syrup •2 shots whiskey •3 cinnamon sticks •1 tsp. cardamom •1 apple, cut into rounds •1/2 lemon, squeezed into pot
Adapted from the Inn At The Crossroads Wassail recipe
As far as spices go, this mulled cider is much simpler than the wine, though all you really need from it is that mix of apple and cinnamon flavours. This recipe is adapted more heavily from the original, as it's easier to pick up a six pack of cheap Strongbow or Somersby cider than it is to find the non-alcoholic cider used in the original. Again, everything can be added for taste.
The addition of the bottle of ale is great for those like me who don't want things to be too sweet, and you can also cut down on maple syrup if you're not a fan of overly sweet drinks. I also added a squeeze of lemon that differs from the original recipe -- just a little bit of zest is great in a steaming hot drink. You can also swap out the whiskey for anything of your choice. I've used spiced liqueurs such as Fireball and spiced rum in this recipe before with great results.
All you have to do to make it is chuck everything together in a pan. Make sure all the ingredients are mixed to your liking, and then simmer until nicely infused with spices. Again -- don't boil it.
Have you made these recipes yourself? Did you make any changes? Let us know in the comments!