This year, scientists uncovered an amazing revelation: contrary to prior belief, the human nose can detect one trillion distinct scents. If not more. Dogs still beat us, but we humans are doing pretty well.
To me, nothing quite smells like Christmas as mulled wine (glühwein in Germany, vin chaud in France). It has become as much a symbol of Christmas as tinsel, probably because it’s so damn cold this time of year that the notion of a hot and alcoholic drink makes the eyes of 50 million Brits light up like a Christmas tree.
You can buy it pre-prepared, but half the fun is in making it while shaking your booty to Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you”.
Does it matter which grape variety you choose?
Well, although it wouldn’t be a train wreck if you use a different wine, the best choices are Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel. These wines are full-bodied and bursting with fruit, often accompanied with flavours of spice which beautifully complement the ingredients of mulled wine. You also don’t want to choose a particularly expensive wine because the majority of the flavour of the final output comes from the added spices and fruit.
Keep the process straightforward by choosing a relatively simple recipe. No one wants to spend hours chopping fruit when you can be relaxing, right?
- 1 bottle of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel
- 3 tablespoons of brown sugar or honey (tweak according to how sweet you like it)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- Grated nutmeg
- 6-7 cloves
- 1 orange (peeled and sliced!)
- A dash of brandy
Throw all of the ingredients in a large pan and warm over a medium heat for about 20 minutes – be very careful that it does not boil or you’ll lose all of the alcohol (boo!). Stir it occasionally to ensure that the honey or sugar has dissolved. Once it is blended and steaming hot, pour it into mugs and enjoy.
Serves 4. Or 2 if you’re thirsty.
Some wine suggestions:
- Gato Negro Cabernet Sauvignon (Waitrose)
- Burra Brook Shiraz (Marks & Spencer)
- Lirac Domaine des Garrigues (Majestic)
Now if you’re thinking – I love the idea of a warm, wine-based cocktail, but I find mulled wine far too heavy and/or sweet, no fear. Later this week I’ll cover mulled wine made using white wine: a lighter and somewhat underrated festive indulgence.
This blog post is the first in our Christmas series #FeelingFestive. Expect some more great recipes and festive-themed wine pairings over the coming few weeks. The app (www.grapefulapp.com) will be updated this week to showcase our fabulous Christmas content, allowing you to easily select wine during this somewhat boozy time of year. We got you covered!
If you haven’t downloaded the app yet, it is available for free from the Apple App Store and also the Google Play Store (if you’re one of those Android-loving contrarians, like I am). Here’s a sneak preview!