There’s an account on Instagram and Twitter called Very British Problems. For several years, the people behind the account have humorously poked fun at the absurdities of British Life – the phrases, traditions and activities that help to make Britain great. I often find myself on the receiving end of some of these messages when friends tag me in comments; using them to underline my eccentric ways.
A few nights ago, we hosted a dinner for a close group of friends. I have curated a bit of a reputation at my dinners for never letting a glass run empty; priding myself for always having a well-stocked drinks cabinet to cater for every taste.
Ahead of the dinner, I received a message in our dinner party group chat from our friend Andrew. He sent a screengrab of a post Very British Problems had made, introducing it by saying: “This is Tom during the month of December.”
Mull everything. If it moves, Mull it. Wine? Mull it. Cider? Mull it. Water? Get it mulled!
It’s hard to argue with this when I have been known to buy Mulled Wine-scented bleach for our downstairs loo. I’m happy to admit that one of my favourite things about late-Autumn/early Winter is the fact that it is acceptable to drink Mulled Wine once more – alongside listening to 90’s pop band East17. Truth be told, I would drink it (and listen to Stay Another Day) all year round if I could but, alas, that would be frowned upon.
I put my obsession down to memories of my Birthday celebrations on Boxing Day. Having a birthday fall the day after Christmas always meant that my parents would gather family friends to celebrate when I was younger. In preparation, my Dad would prepare a gallon of Mulled Wine so that by the time the guests arrived, the smell would have permeated throughout the house. My parents would ladle the ruby liquid into prized stoneware goblets that they had bought on their honeymoon from a potter in Northumberland. This combination of hot wine, alcohol and treasured drinking vessels meant that children were FORBIDDEN from having anything to do with proceedings.
While my parent’s maintain custody of the honeymoon goblets, I have prised the recipe for mulled festive spirit from their clutches. Unlike their version, I booze-up mine with the addition of an individual shot of seasonal spirit in each recipients’ glass (typically brandy, Cointreau, or amaretto). I acquired this trick from a visit to the York Christmas Market a few years ago and now happily indulge in a Disaronno fortified treat.Print
- 3 x 70c bottles of red wine (Chianti or Rioja works well)
- 5 clementines
- 3 Whole cinnamon sticks
- 3 star anise
- ½ nutmeg – freshly grated
- 250g golden granulated sugar
- 1tsp vanilla bean paste
- Best prepared several hours ahead of serving to allow the flavours to fully infuse. Pour the wine into a large, sturdy pan. Add the sugar, spices and vanilla bean paste.
- Slice the clementines (with the skins on) into 1cm discs and tumble into the wine.
- Stir over a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved and the wine begins to steam – do not allow it to boil at any point as this will burn off the alcohol.
- When the sugar has dissolved and the wine has begun to steam, turn off the heat and clamp a lid onto the pan. Pop the pan to one side to rest for at least two hours before you’re ready to serve. I always make my mulled wine in a cast iron pan as I find this holds its heat better – aiding the spice infusion. Don’t worry if you don’t have a cast iron pan though – a normal one will suffice.
- About 20 minutes before you are ready to serve, return the pan to a low heat. Stir occasionally until the wine is steaming once more, before turning the heat down to the lowest setting. Again, don’t allow the liquid to boil.
- To serve, pour a 30-60ml measure of your favourite liquor into a mug or goblet and top up with mulled wine – capturing a slice of clementine in each cup for decoration. Drink while warm and enjoy.
- Category: Party drinks
- Cuisine: British
Keywords: Christmas, Mulled Wine, Drink, Party Drinks, Christmas Party, Festive, Father Christmas, Santa, Clementines, Red Wine, Punch