Every year I like to get my friends together for a crafting night where we make Christmas decorations together and decorate cookies. This year it was a more low-key affair and we skipped the cookies but I did make mulled wine for us to share while we chatted and crafted. Mulled wine is that perfect winter party drink, filling the role that hot apple cider seems to occupy in America. It’s effectively a warm and spicy sangria yet, where sangria is refreshing, cool and light, mulled wine is rich and warming. Drinking mulled wine always reminds me of shopping in the bitter cold at outdoor Christmas markets, where they often have stands selling mulled wine, hot mince pies and candied peanuts.
You can buy bags of mulling spices but there’s really no need. Buy some cheesecloth and invest in whole cloves, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods and you can make your own perfectly easily. I use this recipe but I like to leave out the brandy if I’m making it for a casual gathering rather than a full-blown party. It looks pretty served in glasses but, since it is hot, it’s more practical to serve it in mugs.