Leave it to the Brits to show us Americans how to get politely festive. BBC Radio 1 hosts Chris Smith and Greg James turned the rapey pop anthem “Blurred Lines” into this holiday parody, “Mulled Wines,” and it is a thing of beauty.
Robin Thicke and Pharrell garnered their fair share of criticism for one of the top party songs of the year. What does that say about our parties? Are we partying wrong? Maybe. There’s a good way to fix that, though. Class it up with some Christmas in a glass.
We can always look across the ocean when we want to feel fancy. Monocles, tea, James Bond — the Brits have it covered. Celebrity chef and tousle-haired bundle of adorable Jamie Oliver has a brilliant mulled wine recipe that I’m going to tweak for you, mostly because I’m the editor and I can do that, but also because I can’t get my hands on actual vanilla pods or star anise. It’s blizzard season and I’m not leaving the house for anything less than a distress call from a family member, and even that depends on how much I like them.
First, I’m hoping you have a crockpot. Also known as a slow-cooker, this essential winter appliance might be gathering dust on a forgotten shelf behind a warped cupboard above your refrigerator, surrounded by countless things you’ve also never used. If you don’t have one, ask a grandmother, any grandmother, doesn’t even have to be yours. Barring that, you’ll have to do with a large sturdy pot, at least two quarts, and you’ll have to mind it from time to time. Tiring, yeah? Get a crockpot.
- a large orange
- a lemon
- a lime
- 2 cups fine sugar
- 6 whole cloves
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- vanilla extract
- nutmeg, fresh is best but powdered will do because who are we kidding here, really
- 2-3 bottles of red wine
Your first question may very well be, what kind of wine? I’ve found that slightly sweet, jammy wines with a touch of pepper work best. Chiantis, Zinfandels, and Lambruscos are my personal choices. Obviously you can go with whatever you like best, as long as it’s not Manischewitz.
Peel some large strips from your citrus fruits, throw them in your crockpot or saucepan with the 2 cups of sugar and all your spices. If you’re using powdered nutmeg like I am, just a teaspoon will do. Pour in some wine until the sugar is just covered and throw the heat on HIGH. The idea is to get a rolling boil and reduce that mixture to a syrup. We’re going for impact here. After a few minutes of reduction, you should have a glorious concoction of purple magnificence.
Pour the rest of the wine in and drop the temp to LOW. In this fashion, the mulled wine is kept warm all night long, making it readily available to ladle out to incoming party guests or carolers, or relatives you think would be much more tolerable with a little alcohol in them. And with a steaming cup of ruby-red mulled wine, the aromas of Christmas tinged with citrus and earthy herbs, you’ll be sure to stay toasty all season long.
Photo Yasuo Kida/flickr