Recipé for mulled wine (gluhwein)

On this page: A regular for Christmas, and sometimes by special request for wintertime occasions. (It went down a storm at the Pony Club Christmas Carol Service in the 90s - OK yah! So much so that it ran out very quickly, and one chap asked for Ribena instead of fruit punch to top up his glass, "so no-one knew he wasn't drinking alcohol").

To make about 15-20 glasses

Ingredients

Two bottles robust red wine: can be as cheap as you like as long as not too astringent
One bottle tapwater
3cm piece of fresh ginger
One quill cinnamon
Teaspoon each of juniper berries, fennel seed and allspice
12 cloves and 12 cardamon pods
One orange and one lemon, washed
Sugar and spirits to taste (see below).

Method

Peel the ginger and almost slice it through several times to expose the interior. Thinly peel the orange and lemon, reserving the flesh to serve later. Put the peel with all the spices in a big pan (preferably stainless steel, as enamel can discolour and hold the smell for a disconcerting time). Pour over the wine and water, bring to a simmer, and leave, covered, to steep overnight.

When you are ready to serve (or to bottle for later), cut the citrus into neat slices. Bring the wine almost to the boil, then remove from the heat. Stir in sugar to taste (I like only a couple of tablespoons, but lots of people expect it quite sweet). If not worried about the alcohol and the expense, pour in some brandy or other spirits.

Tips: Avoid the temptation to add apples, pears, cucumber, bananas or any other soggy fruit whatsoever :-)    If you don't have all the spices to hand, the ginger, cinnamon and cloves are the essential ones.

P.S. This page is very popular around Xmas, and I was amazed to be rung one December by a journalist from Radio Solent to ask if I could be an expert on a programme they were compiling. I had to decline, sadly, as what I know about mulled wine isn't a lot more than what's here!