When I was a girl I read so much, I read several books a week, adult and children’s book – I borrowed my mum’s library books so I could take out more than just the two on my tickets. I read all sorts of everything, classics, romances, adventures, westerns, war stories, Tarzan, Rider Haggard, Walter Scott, Georgette Heyer, Lesley Charteris, Hammond Innes, Neville Shute… and lots of Dickens… Being also very interested in food, even then, I used to mentally collect ingredients and recipes, and among my thoughts on what I would eat and drink ‘when I’m grown up‘ was mulled wine… it seemed to appear in Agatha Christie novels, and people always enjoyed it, both the lovely aroma and the warming quality!
However, the reality has been sadly disappointing; harsh wine, too much brandy, bitter orange skin, overpowering spices, too sweet… I always accept a glass when offered by kind hosts and feel a little guilty that really it isn’t the warming and intoxicating beverage I imagined it would be when I was young.
That is… until last night! It was the writing group get together and we gathered at one of our member’s lovely Victorian house. We stepped out of the frosty evening, into the welcoming warmth and were greeted by delicious aromas and a handsome husband. Would we like mulled wine, we were asked, as we peeled off our coats and delivered our offering for the buffet. Yes, please! I would have a glass and then have something else later… so I thought.
However, one sip, and I was transported back to the books of my childhood because this mulled wine really was mulled wine!! Mulled wine as it should be! Gently spiced, aromatic, full of flavour and the right temperature… I have to say, the first glass must have had a hole in the bottom because it did disappear rather quickly! Our host told us it was a Jamie Oliver recipe, and we were all begging copies because honestly it was really lovely!
The secret it seems is to dissolve the sugar in a little wine, add the spices (cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, nutmeg, vanilla pod,) juice from clementines, and fruit peel (clementine, lemon and lime) reduce to a syrup and then add the rest of the wine and star anise… the result is fabulous!
I have the reading group coming for or Christmas get together next Wednesday, I might try that then!!