Take a trip to any Winter market, and you are more than likely to find stalls selling cups of mulled wine and cider to help warm your cockles against the chilly, crisp air. Indulging in a steaming hot mug of something mulled is a sure-fire way to instantly warm up, and is a welcome, and ever-so-slightly naughty treat in which we can all indulge when the temperature outside starts to drop. Great for Winter gatherings, and a great festive addition to Christmas parties, once you have a recipe for mulled wine and cider that you like, it is something in your Domestic Goddess repertoire that you can pull out time and time again, knowing that it will always be a crowd pleaser.
Mulled Wine: Walk in to a supermarket at this time of year, and you might come across a ready-mixed bottle of mulled wine. In my experience, a majority of these are quite good, and with the help of a large, heavy duty-pan, can be heated up on the hob quite easily and taste lovely. Sometimes there is no need to add a pop of extra spice or citrus to these mixtures, but this is a personal taste thing. I personally like my mulled wine punchy and zingy, with a fragrance that hits you, and a taste that makes you feel super-warm and incredibly festive.
But if you want to make your own mulled wine from scratch, and forgo the shop-bought versions, the best base to start with is a good bottle of red wine. Something inexpensive of course (you don't want to go spending a fortune) then you'll need to have to hand a selection of different spices. Popular choices are:
- Cinnamon Sticks
- Star Anise
- Bay Leaves
- Vanilla Pod
- Grated Orange Peel
You can easily get mulled wine spice sachets containing a majority of the spices that you need, all ready and waiting for you to add to your wine, but for a completely homemade recipe, there are a number of good, simple recipes available to follow out there. Or make a few batches and find out what works best for you - the choice is entirely yours.
Mulled Cider: Mulled cider is great alternative for those who do not count red wine as a part of their preferred drinks list. The method for making this Winter warmer is simple, and along the lines of that for mulled wine. Ingredients you can add to your batch are also the same, so you may need to experiment a little to find the mix that you like the best - there are lots of recipes floating around that you can test out.
A great thing about mulled cider is that it is super-easy to recreate a non-alcoholic alternative. Simply use apple juice as an alternative, and instantly you have a drink that is warming, yummy, and suitable for drivers, non-drinkers, and children alike. There are even recipes that you can concoct in a slow cooker, which is a perfect solution for those who are hosting a Winter party of Christmas celebration. Add all your ingredients to the slow cooker or crock pot, and allow to heat up quickly, or slowly, depending on how quickly you want the mixture ready. Once warmed, turn heat settings to warm, and let your guests come and help themselves to a mug of mulled cider as and when they want to. Fresh slices of orange can be laid out for an additional garnish.
Do you have a tried and tested mulled drink recipe?
For alternative Winter drink ideas, check out our Warming Winter Drinks post.