Sunday, December 27, 2009

Winter Comfort Mulled Wine

The holidays are all about people, the cards, the letters, the photos, remembering those not with us and maybe those far away. It’s the coming and going of friends in the home and the spirit of hospitality, the warmth, the welcome, the memories, and the love! Living in Georgia, so far away from my childhood home, my family and my traditions it seems important to me to fan the flame of memory and extend this comfort to others, and one way to do this is with the offering of a hot cup of ‘mulled’ wine.

This tradition of greeting visitors to the home with mulled wine has been a delight to my American friends and I’ve been asked so many times for the recipe that I have decided to post it on my blog for all to enjoy and cheer the soul in these winter nights.

There’s no better comfort on a cold winter’s night than sitting down with a pot of mulled wine drank by a blazing fire. When I make this at home the aromatic warm and pungent spices with orange overtones fills the kitchen and even in Georgia I can close my eyes and am transported back to my mother’s kitchen in Ireland. The term ‘mulled’ simply refers to the adding of spices and juices to the wine, which are all blended and heated together to make a wonderful aromatic delight.

In my particular recipe I use an English Mulled spice called ‘Allspice berries’, and unlike the name suggests they are in fact a single berry and not a mixture of spices. The berry actually takes its name because its aroma is reminiscent of the combination of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. These amazing little berries are mainly grown in Jamaica and are harvested from the Bayberry Tree; but the evergreen tree is actually indigenous to the rainforests of South and Central American where it grows wild. The scent is so good that it’s no wonder it’s found in men’s colognes! You can pick up ‘mulling’ spices in various places, and I enjoy Williams-Sonoma’s version, simply called ‘Mulling Spices’, which can be found in their stores in a copper & green can.

Serve the mulled wine with spiced nuts, cheeses and mince pies for an authentic Irish winter holiday greeting and to give it an American Southern twist make sure the nuts are pecans!

Just the trick for your New Years party, or any winter gathering with friends…

Mourne Comfort Mulled Wine:

1 (750ml) bottle of red wine (merlot, shiraz or cabernet sauvignon)
1 cup simple syrup
1 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed is best)
2 small oranges (thinly sliced)
6 whole cloves
2 3’ cinnamon sticks
2 tsp whole allspice berries (English spice)
¼ cup brandy

Basic Simple syrup:

1 cup sugar
2 cups water

(Bring sugar and water to a boil. Refrigerate and store.)

Prepare sugar syrup and set aside (ready for the next pot).

Place cloves, allspice berries and cinnamon or 2 Tbsp store bought mulling spices in a large tea leaf filter bag or tie in a small piece of cheesecloth. Slice oranges.

Heat the wine in a medium saucepan but do not allow it to boil. Add the orange juice, simple sugar syrup, thinly sliced oranges and spices and infuse for 20 minutes.

Add the brandy and taste to see if it needs a little more simple syrup.

Ladel in to punch cups and serve.

(*Remember, if you wish to print this recipe out for your own kitchen, I suggest you copy and paste it into Word. If you print this blog you will deforest Sweden, Norway and Lapland and we'll have no Christmas trees next year!)

J the I F

1 comment:

  1. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!


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