By the Gentleman
Holy moly it has been a cold winter here at Cocktail Challenge HQ. Wind, rain, the occasional bit of hail, and freezing cold nights have been the norm for the past few weeks. Meanwhile, my daily web surfing is filled with descriptions of wonderful summer drinks and recipes to refresh and cool you down. Son, I don’t need to be any cooler I’m like Mr. Freeze already. So what’s a dynamic duo of internet bloggers supposed to do in such inclimate weather? Make Mulled Wine of course so that we can get drunk and warm at the same time, which is the best way to get warm (well, one of the best ways 😉 ). The process for this Mulled Wine is based off a post I found on the River Cottage forum but the flavours are all my own.
I decided to make the syrup ahead so I could take it to The Lady’s new place and enjoy some Mulled Wine with dinner, being all fancy and romantic. By making it ahead there was no risk of boiling the wine and getting rid of the alcohol, which is a horrible crime. I used brown sugar and molasses and I’m very happy with this decision. They gave the syrup a really deep brown, almost burgundy colour which is far more reminiscent of red wine than most mulling syrups you see. They also didn’t make it overly sweet, which a lot of people feel they do, instead just giving it enough sweetness and that beautiful deep colour. The all C’s spice mix was to be a little bit different and to try something new with Mulled Wine. I think the amounts need a bit of tinkering, but the flavour was definitely interesting enough for me to want to revisit it. I used a pretty cheap bottle of red wine, a Shiraz, but it was an Australian Shiraz so it’s really better than it’s price suggests. It had a really strong fruity smell, which is what you’re after with Mulled Wine. I chose the bottle through my usual method, the Wine Men of Gotham has an interesting label and an even more interesting story behind it. I was pretty happy that I could find a cheap bottle of wine that also had a cool label. The below recipe will make enough syrup to go with one bottle of wine but you can easily use it to make more by repeating the amounts for every bottle.
50g brown sugar
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
4 green cardamon pods
1/2 cinnamon stick (I added another whole way towards the end and transferred it to the bottle)
Juice of half an orange, reserve husk to put in mix
Half an apple studded with 9 cloves + 3 extra cloves
1 1/2 tbsp molasses
Rind of one lemon
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 oz Grand Marnier (optional)
750ml bottle Wine Men of Gotham Shiraz
Orange Wedge for garnish
Cloves for garnish
Toast cardamon pods, coriander seeds and caraway seeds in a pan to open up the flavours.
Place all ingredients except the red wine in a pan. Stir to combine
Bring the pan to the boil and reduce to strong bubbling simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes remove the fruit with a slotted spoon
Bring the pan to a rolling boil. Keep boiling till the liquid is half the volume and syrupy. Watch out because this will happen quickly.
Strain the syrup through a sieve, muslin or a coffee filter.
Bottle in sterilised bottles and seal firmly
To make mulled wine mix your red wine with the prepared syrup. Heat till warm but not boiling.
Serve in mugs or cup and saucer with an orange wedge studded with cloves.
The Lady has indulged in far more mulled wine than I have during her overseas travels so I let her comments guide me. She said it tasted and smelt like Mulled Wine should which is always good to know. The syrup had this beautifully spiced aroma that was very strong, the whole house smelt of cinnamon, cloves and pretty much how I imagine a white Christmas to smell. You can’t smell the cayenne pepper at all. It lurks in the background. Taking a mouthful you get the warmth of the drink, a reassuring embrace on a cold winter night. Then you’re hit with the traditional mulling spices. A soothing spice feeling from the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom pods. Between the warmth of the drink and the soothing spices you get lulled into the drinks embrace and then BAM! Real heat from the cayenne and probably the coriander seeds. It fills your mouth and goes right down the back of your throat. Take a swing of this on a cold night and you would definitely feel warmer. The cayenne may not be for everyone but I was looking for something different from ginger that would keep with my C spices theme. The Lady reckons cayenne is my thing at the moment, adding it to anything and everything and I admit I may have put a bit too much of a pinch in but I don’t think it overly dominated the drink. It just provided the heat I was looking to replace from the ginger. I was a bit disappointed with the fruit, I thought their flavour would have been a bit stronger and maybe in the future I’ll increase the amount of fruit I add to try and get a more prominent flavour.
Researching Mulled Wine recipes I shouldn’t have been shocked at how much it divided people. Some people love it and others absolutely hate it. Really this is pretty much how anyone talks about any sort of alcohol but nearly every Mulled Wine recipe or article includes the fact that people love it or hate it. I just it’s because you make it yourself and it is very open to interpretation that people can end up with wildly different results. At the moment I wouldn’t say this is a great recipe, it needs some work to round out the flavours and deliver a more balanced Mulled Wine. But on a cold winter’s night, snuggled up on the couch freaking out to American Horror Story it certainly did the job. Warming, spicy with an extra kick you certainly won’t regret pouring in that bottle of wine and in the end, isn’t that all that matters?