In a season of love and friendship, I’m sharing a recipe that was shared by my friend Joann, who got it from friends across-the-pond. Sharing is what this season is all about, and nothing is better to share than a good cocktail recipe. It’s the perfect cup of holiday cheer, and was even monikered “Christmas In a Glass” which is about as festive as one can get. This is a simple, but potent, recipe for Mulled Wine. I made it for New Year’s Eve last year and, truth be told, drank most of it myself since Andy and Suzie weren’t as tickled by it. (There’s no accounting for taste.)
It comes from another across-the-pond gent, Jamie Oliver (better known in these parts as The Naked Chef). While not the biggest fan of hot cocktails (if you’ve ever tried to finish a mug of hot buttered rum you know what I’m talking about) once or twice a season I can get into the spirit. In this case, there’s such a glorious alchemy of citrus and spices that it absolutely transforms a simple Italian red wine into something magical. The key ingredients on which you cannot skimp are the freshly grated nutmeg and vanilla bean – both are integral to the pungent wonder of this holiday affair.
Jamie’s Mulled Wine ~“Christmas in a Glass”
- 2 clementines (peeled and juiced)
- 1 lemon
- 1 lime
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- 1 whole nutmeg , for grating
- 1 vanilla pod , halved lengthways
- 2 star anise
- 2 bottles Chianti or other Italian red wine
Peel large sections of peel from your clementines, lemon and lime. Put the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the pieces of peel and clementine juice. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg. Throw in the halved vanilla pod and stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.
Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine and then bring to a boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you’ve got a beautiful thick syrup. It’s important to make a syrup base first because it needs to be quite hot, and if you do this with both bottles of wine in there you’ll burn off the alcohol.
When your syrup is ready, turn the heat down to low and add your star anise and the rest of the wine. Gently heat the wine and after around 5 minutes, when it’s warm and delicious, ladle it into glasses and serve.