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Dublin: 17 °C Saturday 21 September, 2019
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Kitchen Secrets: Readers share their tips for fabulously festive mulled wine

(And how to make it without losing any alcohol along the way.)

Image: Shutterstock/Dmitrii Pridannikov

EVERY HOME COOK has their own kitchen hacks, cheats and traditions, and we want to know yours.

Each week as part of our Kitchen Secrets series, we’ll be asking readers to share their cooking tips and go-to-dishes. From the secret to quick-and-easy dinners, to the best way to scramble an egg, we’ll have a new question every seven days.

This week, we’re asking…

What’s your tip for making mulled wine that’s really special?

As usual, our home cooks had lots to say. If you’d like to join the panel (and be in with the chance to win Lidl prizes), send us your name and a bit about yourself to food@thejournal.ie!

Try a labour-saving approach:

Lots of red wine, brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, orange and lemon slices and probably a glug of brandy or rum into a big pot in the hob and bring to the boil then simmer for at least a half hour (or until you are ready to drink). And into a mug & drink!

My sister often sends packs of Gluhwein sachets (powdered spices ) from Germany! They are excellent and save an awful lot of effort!

- Ross Boxshall

Here’s a great trick to avoid losing any alcohol:

Starting with the wine, I generally go for fruity reds to “mull”, like Merlot, Chianti or Tempranillo. To kick off this hot punch you’ll need to get a simple syrup going so as to dissolve the sugar without burning off any alcohol (God forbid). Pour equal quantities of water and sugar in the bottom of a large, heavy-based saucepan. Add in the juice and rind of both oranges (I use clementines) and lemons, along with the spices – a cinnamon stick, bay leaf, star anise, cloves, and grated nutmeg.

Try to use whole versions of these spices rather than powdered varieties – but if you must use the latter then wrap it in muslin to create a teabag of spices that can be removed at the end. Bring the spicy syrup to a rolling boil until the sugar has completely dissolved and the spices infused. Turn the heat right down to a low simmer and stir in your wine. Gently heat until warmed through (about 5 mins). Ladle into mugs and enjoy with homemade mince pies, for all the festive feels. 

- Donna Connolly

Source: Shutterstock/Pixel-Shot

Alcohol-free mulled wine for kids:

Non-alcoholic mulled wine for all the family! Put 500ml of cranberry or pomegranate juice in a saucepan with 250ml of apple juice and add 25g of castor sugar. Add a handful of frozen blackberries, one cinnamon stick, one star anise, four each of cloves and black peppercorns. Finally add one orange quartered.

Heat gently, taste to sweetness, then strain into glasses.

- Jennifer Dillon

And here’s something a bit different – mulled cider anyone?

Mulled wine is a firm favourite this time of year, but why not try mulled cider? Start by pouring one litre of Irish cider into a pot. Add 40g of brown sugar, a glass of dark rum, 400ml apple juice and 2 cinnamon sticks. Take 2 satsumas halved and stud with 4 whole cloves, add to the cider mix. Bring slowly up to nearly boiling but not quite. Don’t allow to boil as this will impair the taste, not to mention evaporate the alcohol – and that would be tragic. Keep warm and serve in mugs, your guests will love it.

Top tip: leave out the alcohol altogether and replace it with more apple juice for the kids and non-drinkers. 

- Angela Nolan

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About the author:

Michael Freeman

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