We got some snow. It wasn't much. A smattering really. The kind of snow fall that would make our Northern European friends scoff. But you could smell it on the air and everyone got very excited. It doesn't snow often in my little town. At the smallest hint of it my mother and I throw our hands up to the heavens and beg the universe to deliver. When it does it is the most welcome treat.
After the initial excitement we retreat indoors and seek out comforts - a crackling fire, a soft kitten and something sanguine, warm and sweetly spiced to drink. Glühwein, a German mulled wine, is my current winter drink of choice as you don't have to be too precious with it and it's cheap as. Drinking it conjures up images of Christmas markets, pub visits and something medieval. Drinking too much will also conjure a mother of a headache. It is traditionally a drink served around festive dates in the winter like Christmas. At our Christmases, when the mercury is pushing 40 C the last thing you feel like drinking is a cup of this. Its for winter months. The spices I list out below are just my personal preference and usually what I have on hand. Add whatever you like. Add sugar if you don't like honey. As for the wine selection? I usually adhere to the cook's cardinal rule of "only use wine good enough to drink" (when bank balance or a sneaky visit to Dad's wine collection allow) but with Glühwein the quality of the wine is immaterial. Any nuances of cheapness get steamed out and replaced by the cacophony of festive spices and sweetness.
- A bottle of fruity red wine (aprox 750 ml)
- 1 Cup water
- 120gm Honey (or caster sugar) - adjust to your preferred sweetness
- peel of 1 orange
- 1 vanilla bean, split & seeds scraped
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
- 2 star anise
- 2 cinnamon quills
- 8 whole cloves
- slice of fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup brandy
1. Combine all ingredients (except brandy in a saucepan. Bring to just below the boil, stirring to dissolve the honey/sugar (roughly 3-5 minutes) Do not let boil as all the precious alcohmahols will cook off!
2. Reduce heat and gently simmer for 15 minutes (and up to 3 hours). Remove from heat, add brandy and serve hot.
Note: If you don't like the idea of cloves and anise and cinnamon floating around in your glass put the spices in a piece of muslin cloth bundle and secure with string and remove before serving.