Make your own Mulled Wine

15 12 2010

What is more festive than a warming glass of hot mulled wine?  With its heady mix of fruit and spices it is quite literally Christmas in a glass.

I know that a lot of people buy those prepared bags of spice mix that you can get in the supermarket and they are all very well and good but once you have made your own mulled wine from scratch you will never even think of going back to the pre-made sachets or bags.

Ingredients:

75 cl bottle cabernet sauvignon red wine

75 cl bottle of port

25 cl apple cider

1 orange

12 cloves

2 clementines

3 lemons

6 tbsp honey

1 cinnamon stick

2 tsp ground ginger

3 fresh bay leaves

1 vanilla pod

2 star anise

1 whole nutmeg

2 measures of brandy/cognac – optional

Method:

This really couldn’t be any easier to make;

Take the orange and stud it with the cloves and chop the clementines and two of the lemons into slices, this can be done in advance

Add the port and the wine to a large saucepan and pour in the honey, cider and brandy, if you are using it, along with 2 pints of water. Give everything a good stir and pop the saucepan over a low heat to simmer.

Zest the remaining lemon and squeeze in half of the juice

Grate approx 1/3 of the nutmeg into the pan

Split the vanilla pod in two and  add to the pan along with the sliced fruit and the rest of the dry ingredients.

Allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not let the mulled wine boil or you will cook off all of the alcohol.

Serve warm in 1/2 pint mugs

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A Drop of Nelson’s Blood

5 05 2010

A Drop of Nelson’s Blood is one of a range of bitters from Farmers Ales (Maldon Brewing).

It was brewed for Trafalgar Day (21st October) and takes it name from Nelson’s body being returned to England preserved in a barrel of brandy. It is said that the sailors on the Victory drank some of the brandy as part of their grog ration, which became known as Nelson’s Blood. So a beer inspired by a national hero, a promising start!

Farmers Ales are based in Maldon in Essex and from what I gather they are very much a local brewer with local pubs featuring their beers on tap and a handful of restaurants and shops distributing bottled beer.

I had this particular beer in it’s bottle conditioned form at the restaurant of the Hyde Hall RHS garden a few miles down the road from the brewery.

In appearance it was a nice dark amber colour with no discernible sediment and very little by way of a head, the aroma is quite light and fruity with a slightly malty undertone but wasn’t particularly pungent.

In terms of taste I found Nelson’s Blood to be a little watery for my liking but it had quite a pleasant fruity,hoppy taste with a slight hintof caramel, there was also a fair strong nutty, woody taste that was coming through.

There is a slight hint of warmth to the beer which is possibly from the addition of the brandy.

All in all I found a Drop of Nelson’s Blood to be a not unpleasant beer from a good local brewer, it wouldn’t have me clamoring for more but at the same time I wouldn’t say no to a pint.

Overall I would give a score of 3.9/5








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