Walking down the Champs-Elysées in Paris the other evening, that unmistakable winter scent of mulled wine came wafting my way. In the cold, night air, and even more than the bright lights that lit up the sky or the stalls selling gifts and trinkets, it came as a confirmation that Christmas is around the corner… Well, okay, a few weeks away, but still close enough to gather the spices for mulled wine.

 Mulled Wine 2

Serves: 6


1 bottle of deep, fruity Rioja red wine

1 glass of freshly squeezed orange juice

The zest of one orange cut into thick strips

Two tablespoons of demerara sugar

6 cloves

3 star anise

A two inch stick of cinnamon

A good dash of nutmeg

A sprig or two of fresh thyme

A generous dash of Cointreau (optional)


  1. Take a copper-bottomed pan and place it over a low to medium flame. Pour in the sugar and stir until the sugar melts. Keep stirring, allowing it to caramelize and deepen in colour, but not burn. It should turn a deep amber.
  2. Add in the orange juice, the orange zest, the cloves, the star anise, the cinnamon and the nutmeg. Keep stirring, so that the mixture reduces and turns almost into a marmalade. Lower the flame if needed to ensure that nothing burns.
  3. Keep the flame low. Pour in the red wine a bit at a time and keep stirring until the mixture warms through. Do NOT allow it to get to the boil.
  4. Put in the whole sprigs of thyme so that the scent infuses in the wine.
  5. For an extra kick, add in the cointreau and stir through.

When serving, make sure the wine is warm and leave the orange zest and spices in the pan. If my experience is anything to go by, you may just need to open an extra bottle and ‘extend’ the mulled wine as the evening wears on.

© Taste Trail Limited, 2014