With the lights now twinkling, cheeks flushed by the cold (or ‘accidentally’ ending up under the mistletoe…), it’s time to talk about one of my favourite things about Christmas – mulled wine. This year I’ve seen so many ideas of how to make your mulled wine ‘extra different’ (whatever this means), to make it ‘low calorie (this is just upsetting), and one supermarket using the expression ‘buy it, heat it, drink it’ for their all-in-one version, and it makes me a little sad. To set the scales right again, let’s take some of the stress out of Christmas, add a whole bunch more flavour, and get some slow cooker mulled wine in our lives.
Smell is such an evocative thing, and especially round the festive season the heady aromas can bring back so many memories of years gone by. To me the smell of mulled wine brings back memories of the Christmas markets back home in Edinburgh. Throw in the smell of cooking meats, melting cheeses and pine trees galore and it’s evenings spent with friends, laughing, eating too much and making memories.
That’s what I was aiming for when I made this recipe – it’s the sort of thing you can make when you’ve friends round for dinner or coming over to bask in the glow of the Christmas tree. The sort of evenings that involve a little drop (or ten) of Christmas cheer, that go on long into the evening and then beyond. In previous year’s I’ve gone with mulled cider, mulled beer and – my favourite – mulled gin, but this year it’s time to return to an old favourite and get mulling a bottle (or three) of red.
Mulled wine is a beautiful mixture of fruits and spices, sweetness and tanginess. When you make slow cooker mulled wine you really give the flavours time to flow in to one another – it’s got a bit of time in the slow cooker to become smoother, more rounded and much less harsh. It really sings, and so might you after a few glasses… In all seriousness though, it’s a brilliant hack if you’re cooking for quite a few. You can pop it on in the corner and leave it to its own devices whilst you get on with your other preparations or the important things, like enjoying yourself.
In mine I use lots of orange to give it a sweetness and a little bit of tang. The cinnamon is there to offer some warmth and make you feel extra happy and festive. The splash of brandy at the end just makes it all that little be extra indulgent and delicious.
Whether you are getting people over to eat mince pies and marvel at your Christmas decorating skills, or whether you are serving up this season’s most unforgettable dinner party, everyone could do with some mulled wine in their life this Christmas.
Who doesn’t love a glass of mulled wine in the winter, especially around Christmas time? This recipe is perfect, because it is done in the slow cooker you can set it up and leave it to its own devices whilst you get on wine everything else.
- 750ml red wine (merlot, cabernet sauvignon)
- 250ml orange juice
- 3 tbsp honey
- zest of an orange
- 6-8 cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 2 star anise
- 60ml brandy
- Cinnamon sticks and orange peel to garnish
Pour the wine, honey, orange juice and ground cinnamon into the slow cooker and use a silicon whisk (most slow cookers are non-stick) to gently whisk it all together. Add in the cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise. Put on a lot heat for 50 minutes.
Stir in the brandy and let it heat through for about 10 minutes.
Serve in glasses or mugs garnished with orange slices and cinnamon sticks.