Mulled Wine

Holiday 2007
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food and drink

Keep in mind you will need about 30 minutes to prepare ingredients. All the fairy lights in the world can't match the fragrance of hot mulled wine for creating holiday atmosphere. Slip some meat tarts into the oven and your friends and family will love you even more.

by Billy Munnelly

6 bottles red wine
6 oranges
40 cloves (enough to ‘spike’ one orange
3 cinnamon sticks
Unground mace to taste
1 lb (500 g) sugar (or honey)
6 lemons
1 bottle brandy, Cointreau or Triple Sec

1. Any inexpensive red wine will do, even stuff you want to get rid of—but fruity, New World-style is best. One hour before your guests arrive, put the wine in a large, heavy pot and heat without boiling. Spike 1 orange with cloves and add to pot. Heat the sugar in a small amount of water until it dissolves to make a simple syrup. Set aside. Cut the zest from the oranges and lemons—long strips look best—and add to the wine. Squeeze the juices into a jug and set aside.

2. Now comes the important part—getting the flavour right. With the wine as hot as possible, but without boiling, add the brandy and taste. If it needs sweetness, add some of the sugar syrup (it’s best more sweet than dry). If it needs more zest, add orange and lemon juices, and for more kick, add brandy. If it’s too overpowering, add water! Work on it.

3. Serve hot from the stove: remember not to let it boil, and keep the lid on between servings. Stemmed glasses or mugs are best. And don’t forget the mince pies.

Serves 24