Cocoa Mulled Wine

One of the reasons that Christmas is everyone’s favourite time of year is that it’s such a feast for the senses. In particular, our sense of smell is an important memory trigger which is why the whiff of certain aromas can whisk us back to yesteryear. One perfect way of conjuring up Christmas is by filling your home with the smell of mulled wine.

This old European favourite is made from warming spices and rich wine. If you want to try your hand at making your own, it’s very simple and there are hundreds of recipes around. It’s worth experimenting (ahem) before the big day arrives to make sure that you’re happy with your recipe because everyone has different tastes. Here is a good basic recipe to get you started:

  • 2 bottles red wine (standard 75 cl size)
  • 8 tangerines or 3 oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 200g sugar
  • 1 tbs fresh ginger root (grated)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (halved)
  • pinch of chilli
  • 1 nutmeg (for grating)
  • 25g of cocoa powder
  • 5 cloves (optional)
  • vanilla pod (optional)
  • cinnamon sticks for decoration (optional)

Wash the citrus fruit, then peel and juice them. Cut some peel into fine slivers and the remainder into rustic chunks. Add half a bottle of wine, along with the other ingredients, to a heavy saucepan and bring to the boil until the sugar has dissolved. Gradually add in the remaining wine and simmer on a low heat for five minutes (or until you simply can’t resist any longer). Serve in warmed glasses with a cinnamon stick for decoration.

If you don’t have time to collect these ingredients, you can easily cheat by buying ready-made sachets. That way, you only need to worry about organizing wine and sugar (and let’s be honest, most of us can lay our hands on those two ingredients pretty swiftly). For an extra special treat, take a look at the Cocoa Mulled Wine Sachets in the Hotel Chocolat Christmas collection. Not only are these a great time saver, they bring a touch of Yuletide luxury. And because they’re so prettily packaged, you could keep a spare bag in case you need to rustle up a last-minute gift.

Like all recipes, the end result will only be as good as your original ingredients. You should start by choosing two bottles of good red wine. If you want a full-bodied drink, then opt for Shiraz, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon which will provide a deep foundation for your spices. On the other hand, if you prefer something lighter, go for a good Claret or Beaujolais which will both give a more delicate edge to your recipe. For an extra special treat, splash out on some Pinot Noir which will bring added richness.

Next, you will need something to sweeten your wine. For a dark and satisfying drink, consider natural brown sugars such as Demerara, Turbinado or Muscovado which will provide a tasty layer of sticky molasses. However, if you’re using a lighter wine, you don’t want to overwhelm it, so go for caster sugar. And if you’re expecting guests with a very sweet tooth, runny honey helps to take the edge off wine.

Whatever ingredients you choose – cheers, and do have a very merry Christmas.

P.S. This is a sponsored post.

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