Christmas special: The Decanter mulled wine recipe

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This may be anathema to Decanter’s experts, but I’m looking for the ultimate recipe for mulled wine. Can you help?

- Jenny Young, Newcastle

mulled wineSo long as you’re not mulling one of the finest bottles in your cellar (which I’m sure you’re not), it’s not anathema at all.

I personally think you need to add something sweet like a good slug of vintage character or late bottled vintage Port, or a dash of Grand Marnier or Cointreau. I also try to keep most of my spices whole, otherwise the mulled wine can taste powdery – so use cinnamon sticks rather than ground cinnamon, for example.

The two key things are to use a drinkable if inexpensive wine for a base and not to boil the liquid at any point, otherwise you’ll burn off the alcohol and make your mulled wine taste bitter.

This is my recipe, to serve 8-10:

Mulled wine

Ingredients
2 bottles medium-bodied red wine
1 unwaxed orange studded with 6 cloves
a few strips of zest from an unwaxed lemon
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cardamom pods
a little freshly grated nutmeg
100g soft brown sugar
100ml orange liqueur
a few orange slices

Method
Pour the wine into a large saucepan and add 500ml cold water
Add the orange and lemon zest, spices and sugar and heat gently until almost boiling
Reduce the heat as low as possible – the liquid should barely tremble – and simmer for about 30 minutes so the spices infuse
Add the orange liqueur and orange slices and reheat without boiling
Ladle into small cups or glasses to serve

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