Sunday, 6 December 2015

Gløgg glögg glugg

We need to talk about mulled wine. 'tis the season and it's everywhere. Unfortunately it's usually bought in a supermarket and tipped into a pan, sickly sweet with a vague hint of cinnamon.
I just had a cup at a rainy Christmas market and it was horrible. It's no wonder so many people don't like it if this is all they've ever tasted.
But it doesn't have to be this way. People who don't think they like mulled wine like my gløgg because it's properly spiced, not overly sweet and actually tastes good.

First, spice. A stick of cinnamon will not flavour anything in the ten minutes it takes to heat up the bottle. The key is lots of spices and time for the flavours to infuse.

Once you have heated the wine, along with an orange cut into quarters, keep it on the heat (not boiling) for about 15 minutes then take off the heat and leave to infuse for at least an hour.
Next, sweetness. Too much sugar and the wine is unbearable, too little and it's bitter to the taste. My advice is to see what works for you. I think my recipe is the perfect balance but your tastes may differ.
My recipe uses oranges. Dried orange peel works beautifully but it's scarce and pricey. Fresh oranges have their own sweetness, and I squeeze the juice in after infusion so cut down on the sugar accordingly.

Finally, serving. The classic Danish method, and still my favourite, is to put a few port soaked almonds into the bottom of your cup, along with a good measure of the port. It adds body and you can eat the goodies afterwards. Frankly, I'd just have the port and fruit. It's really good on ice cream.

A final note about the wine: don't waste a good bottle.  This is all about the spices. For a big batch I recently made I used wine from Aldi (£2.59) and Lidl (£2.99).

Gløgg recipe (serves 4-6)

1 bottle red wine (cheap is fine)
75g sugar
1 orange, quartered
16 cloves (you can stud them into the orange if you like)
1 star anise
2-3 small cinnamon sticks or 1 large
Green cardamom pods, about 10
A handful of raisins
A handful of whole almonds

Put the wine, orange, spices and sugar into the pan and heat on a medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Make sure it doesn't boil. Keep on the heat for about 15 minutes, then switch off hob and leave for at least an hour.

Meanwhile soak some raisins and whole almonds in port. Use as much port as you like!

When the spices and orange have infused, either remove with a slotted spoon or ladle through a sieve. Squeeze in the orange juice. Reheat the wine on a medium heat. Spoon some of the almonds and raisins into your cups with a good measure of port, ladle the wine in. Serve with a teaspoon.