As soon as it gets cold in Auckland, proper cold (tonight's low is 1 degree) I start to crave mulled wine. It has so many lovely memories for me, mostly involving snowy Christmas markets in Europe, and it is the most warming and satisfying drink when you’re cold to the bone.
This recipe has some traditional and not so traditional elements. I played around with it until it tastes just how I like it, which is gutsy, citrusy and spicy rather than too syrupy sweet. It tastes fine using cheap wine (don’t waste good red) but of all the different varieties, Chianti seems to taste the nicest. The most important thing is not to boil the wine, which evaporates all the alcohol content. Don't buy brandy especially, it is delicious without it, but if like me you have it in the cupboard from Christmas, I highly recommend adding it to this recipe!
A bottle of red wine
A double shot of brandy
A mandarin or half an orange (with peel)
5-6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
Nutmeg to taste (I grate in whole nutmeg because I love the smell, but you can use powdered)
Splash of vanilla extract
Handful of sultanas (my secret ingredient which adds a yummy Christmasy taste)
2 tablespoons of raw sugar
Cut the mandarin in half and squeeze the juice into a pot, then add the peel (or do the same with the orange).
Add the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla, sugar and sultanas.
Add half a cup of red wine then bring everything to a gentle, rolling boil. Watch it closely at this point so nothing burns, it takes a few minutes to turn all syrupy.
Turn the heat right down to low and add the wine and brandy, then heat until steaming hot.
I strain out all the bits before serving (and eat the sultanas…delish) so you don’t get any crunchy bits when you’re drinking it.