A pan of warming, spiced mulled wine (also called Glühwein) is the taste of Christmas in a glass – and it's dead simple to make.
The classic recipe is a celebration of traditional festive spices such as cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. But feel free to add any other spices you like to the pot as well; star anise, cardamom, ginger and bay leaves all work well.
The key to the perfect mulled wine is patience – let everything mull away and warm up gently so the flavours have time to mingle with the wine. Then simply ladle it into glasses, as and when your guests pop in.
Tip: Don’t be tempted to scrimp too much on your bottle of wine. Despite all the flavours that are added in the recipe, if you wouldn’t be happy to serve your bottle with food, then it’s best to avoid it!
JAMIE’S MULLED WINE
200g caster sugar
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 fresh bay leaves
1 whole nutmeg, for grating
1 vanilla pod
2 star anise
2 bottles Chianti or other Italian red wine
1. Use a speed-peeler to shave large sections of peel from the clementines, lemon and lime.
2. Put the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the clementine juice. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg. Halve the vanilla pod lengthways and add to the pan, then stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.
3. Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine, then bring to the boil.
4. Keep the mix on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you’ve got a beautiful thick syrup.
It’s important to make a syrup base first because the sugar and spices need to get quite hot, but if you heat them this high once you’ve added the wine, you’ll burn off the alcohol.
5. When your syrup is ready, turn the heat down to low and add your star anise and the rest of the wine. Gently heat the wine, and after around 5 minutes, when it’s warm and delicious, ladle it into heatproof glasses and serve.
MIX UP YOUR MULLED WINE
You can experiment with different flavours in your mulled wine, depending on whether you like something with a little more kick, or you prefer a sweeter tipple. Gennaro’s Italian mulled wine packs a punch, and includes peppercorns, fennel seeds, rosemary, special limoncello and a glug of vermouth!
Other ideas include using vanilla-infused sugar for the base syrup, or brown sugar which will give the recipe extra warmth. You can also add extra alcohol at the end of your recipe – experiment with sloe or damson gin for something a bit special.
LEFTOVER MULLED WINE
If you find yourself with a few glasses of mulled wine leftover, don’t be tempted to throw it away! You can freeze the mix and either make sophisticated adult lollies, or serve as a very simple granita. This mulled wine sorbet is a fantastically useful recipe to have up your sleeve, and is a lovely light alternative to many heavy Christmas desserts. Or why not turn your leftovers into festive-spiced sweets? Mulled wine jelly sweets are a great gift, or after dinner treat.
Discover Jamie’s ultimate recipes for all the festive classics in Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook, on sale now. And take a look at our Christmas hub for ideas for everything from cocktails and edible gifts, to special diet recipes and tasty leftovers.