Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a glass of mulled wine, like this Italian-inspired version!
Although it’s been unseasonably warm for much of December, a glass of mulled wine is still a wonderful part of Christmas.
Recently, Thomas J Fudge’s sent me some of their Florentines to try, and challenged me to create a mulled wine recipe to go with them.The Florentines themselves are absolutely delicious – full of nuts and juicy cranberries in delicious chewy caramel, and with a thick coating of luscious milk chocolate on the bottom.
Because of their name, I always assumed that Florentines originally came from Florence in Italy. But a little internet research showed that their origins are unclear. They could have been created in Britain, the United States, or possibly Italy.
And that got me thinking about whether they drink mulled wine in Italy. I know that there’s a tradition of drinking hot, spiced wine in much of northern Europe and into the Alps. So I thought it was likely that it’s also enjoyed in Northern Italy.
Sure enough, they love mulled wine in Italy as well, except they know it as Vin Brûlé. It’s interesting that it has a French name, but not the same name that they use in France!
Anyway, I used Vin Brûlé as the basis of my Italian-inspired Mulled Wine. It’s a delicious, lightly spiced wine that has a smooth flavour thanks to the honey and vanilla that I added.
When you are choosing a wine to use, I would go for something like a Cabernet Sauvignon rather than the more delicate Tarango that I like to use in my usual Mulled Wine recipe.
Make sure you pick a decent bottle, but you don’t need to buy a top-end wine.
I don’t like a lot of citrus in my mulled wine, but if you do then feel free to add the zest and juice of an unwaxed lemon as well. And feel free to increase or decrease the amount of brandy to taste, or substitute grappa if you have any to hand.
A delicious warming drink, based on the Italian Vin Brûlé. It’s Perfect for serving to guests at your next Christmas party, or to treat yourself while you’re wrapping the Christmas presents!
- 1 bottle of red wine
- 2 Cinnamon sticks
- 6 Cloves
- Pinch of fresh nutmeg
- 1 Orange
- 6 tablespoons runny honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons brandy
- Optional: 1 Orange to garnish
Scrub the orange under hot water to remove any wax coating from the skin.
Pour the red wine into a medium saucepan and add the spices, honey and vanilla extract.
Use a vegetable peeler to peel long wide strips of zest off half the orange. But be careful to avoid catching too much of the white pith, as that tastes bitter. Add the strips of zest and the juice of the orange to the saucepan.
Warm the wine over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Make sure that the wine doesn’t boil, as you will evaporate the alcohol. The surface of the wine should just ‘shiver’.
After 10 minutes, remove from the heat and pass the wine through a fine mesh sieve to remove all of the spices and zest.
You can either serve this immediately, or prepare ahead and reheat gently later. If you are serving the wine in individual glasses, then you could pop a thin slice of orange into each glass. If you are preparing a large pot for guests to help themselves from, then add the slices to the pot just before serving.