On a chilly winter night there is nothing better than a glass of mulled wine. Create a wonderful flavour base by really letting the sugar and spices infuse and blend well with the wine. It’s important to make a syrup base first because it needs to be quite hot, and if you do this with both bottles of wine in there you’ll burn the alcohol.
2 oranges (peel and juice)
200 g caster sugar
6 whole clovers
1 cinnamon stick
3 fresh bay leaves
1 whole nutmeg, for grating
1 vanilla pod
2 star anise
2 bottles Chianti or other red wine
Peel large sections of the peel from the oranges, lemon and lime using a speed-peeler. Put the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the juice from the orange.
Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg. Halve the vanilla pod lengthways and add to the pan, then stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.
Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine, then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4-5 minutes or until you’ve got a beautiful thick syrup.
When your syrup is ready, turn the heat down to low and add your star anise and the rest of the wine. Gently heat the wine and after around 5 minutes, when it’s warm and delicious, ladle it into a heatproof glass and serve.