Mulled wine (or mulled anything!) is traditionally full of nutmeg and cinnamon and so is obviously off our menu. As an alternative, try using one of the following combinations:
Red wine with honey and peppercorns
Red wine with star anise, lemon rind and brown sugar
Red wine with orange juice & rind and muscovado sugar or treacle
Dry cider with orange rind, brown sugar, a fresh apple and a drop of dark rum
Red wine or dry cider with fresh clementines, cardamon pods and dark rum
Red wine or dry cider with some bottled stem ginger along with its syrup
Readers will note I’ve not given any quantities for these recipes. The trick is to warm your beverage of choice slowly, adding your combination of flavours a little at a time, simmering for a few minutes and tasting a sip off a teaspoon between each addition. The longer you simmer your beverage and leave the flavourings in the warm liquid, the stronger the flavour will become.
It’s up to you how you prepare your added fruit or spices, if you leave them whole, grind or crush them, shred whole pieces of peel or use fine bits of rind, juice or slice fruit carefully or leave it whole in the pan. In general though you want to be able to drink your beverage, not eat it so ensure the pieces are either big enough to sift out or small enough to swallow whole.
I also suggest using a good wine or cider that you enjoy – don’t go for cheap and nasty or else you’ll be able to tell and no amount of spice, fruit or sweeteners will make it taste better.