One of my favourite things about autumn is all my favourite food and drinks are in season. Chestnuts, pumpkin spiced latte (don't judge me), gingerbread and especially mulled wine. When I attend the German Christmas markets every year without fail, the Glühwein stand is always one of my first stops.
Waitrose Cellar recently contacted me with a challenge as part of their "Mulled Wines around the world campaign" to create my own recipe with my favourite mulled wine destination in mind. There was no doubt in my mind that I had to go with Germany. I've visited Berlin twice since I was eighteen and one of my travel bucket list items is to visit the real German Christmas markets. The closest I've gotten is visiting in January so I got to experience Germany in the snow.
Me circa 2010 in all my technicolour glory.
Tip for journeying around Berlin in the snow: Boots are your friend, high heels are your enemy on the ice! Don't let your friend persuade you otherwise, even if it is a Fashion Week party! I think that was the longest walk to the Metro ever. Ah memories.
For now, I will have to make do with Manchester's Christmas markets. There's nothing like munching on mini pancakes drizzled with nutella, while standing under a giant leering glitter Santa.
So, back to the challenge. When researching traditional German Glühwein recipes there were a few different methods so I adapted and combined to make my own little blend which worked out pretty well if I do say so myself. Here's how you make it.
- One 750ml bottle of wine - I used Waitrose's Marques de Calatrava
- 1 orange
- 1 lemon
- 6 tablespoons of honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla pod
- 6 cloves
- 2 star anise
- 1 cup of water
Step one slice your orange, followed by your lemon.
Pause for a moment of silliness...
Put in a large saucepan together and pour over the 6 tablespoons of honey. If you want a particularly sweet mulled wine, then add a couple more tablespoons. Turn the heat on low.
Add your cup of water.
Then spilt the vanilla pod down the middle and put the whole thing in the saucepan.
Next, add the cloves and the star anises.
Finally, add the cinnamon stick and this is your base complete. You then leave this to simmer for around half an hour, stirring occasionally.
The idea is to turn it into a syrup that you will add your wine to later. If you add the wine in at the same time as the syrup, then a lot of the alcohol will have burned off during the half hour simmering and you don't want that do you?
Very important, stop to smell your syrup. I don't know about you but I always smell my cooking during the process. Probably because my clumsy self would be likely to burn her mouth with a taste test.
Oh, and I don't usually smile like that when I cook...Topher was just making me laugh.
Pause to tell Topher off for acting like a dramatic photographer jumping around the kitchen, turning my camera this way and that shouting "work it!" I think my look says it all.
Now, time for the good part! The addition of the most important ingredient, the wine.
Turns out that I don't use a corkscrew that often so I'm a tad bit out of practise...
But I'm sure you can't tell...
So don't hold back and pour it all into the pan. Gently simmer for about 10 minutes then it's ready to serve.
It's rather satisfying drinking something you've made yourselves. Waitrose also sent me their own bottled mulled wine which I couldn't help but taste test against my own. It is quite delicious. I'm going to be diplomatic though and say both are good in their own ways. If you like it pretty sweet, go for the bottle, if not then make your own.
Thanks Waitrose Cellar, I had a blast! Have you ever made your own festive drink?