DECEMBER 1: Making yours a Cracking Citrussy Christmas

Making mulled wine is a traditional Christmas activity for many families (photo: Hannah Pemberton, Unsplash)


MULLED WINE: Spiced and warming

Welcome to The Lemon Grove’s Festive Kitchen and Day 1 of our Citrussy Christmas 2020 Advent Calendar. We’re hoping to inspire you with some zesty, spritzy, tasty dishes, drinks and seasonal treats as many of us will be missing family and friends and the simple pleasures of sharing food.

So, what better way to start than with a spiced mulled wine? Sometimes known as Glühwein, Glög or Vin Brulé this winter warming drink is served hot and is a comforting, familiar mix of red wine, cinnamon sticks, sugar, oranges and cloves. Often served outdoors, at Christmas markets, for après-ski up in the mountains, mulled wine is a warming welcome to guests arriving for your party.

Make yours a mulled wine Christmas (Photo Gaby Dyson, Unsplash)

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Serves: approx. 16 (Covid-19 restrictions permitting)

2 bottles red wine, not too cheap
570 ml cold water
Lemons, juice of two
140 g Caster Sugar
6 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks (or a teaspoon of ground cinnamon).
1 each, fresh orange and lemon – cut into bite-sized pieces, with peel.

Optional spices… a couple of, some slices of ginger star anise and/ cardamom pods, vanilla pod, bay leaves, grated nutmeg.

Sliced orange and/ or strip of peel for decoration.

Place all ingredients into a large saucepan and gently stir.

Simmer, but do not boil for at least 15 minutes and probably no longer than two hours.

Warming for the hands, and the soul … mulled wine (photo: Alisa Anton, Unsplash)

Taste, stir in some extra sugar or maple syrup if needed.

Heat up, but not to boiling point.  For additional flavour, cut 2 oranges into bite-sized pieces, and add to the wine.  Add optional spices if desired.

Or ladle into lightly pre-warmed heatproof glasses or mugs.

Decorate the glasses with an orange slice and peel, and maybe a star anise or cinnamon stick.

Seasonal varieties & food pairing

  • ADD a splash of brandy, or perhaps Port, Cointreau, or Cognac.
  • REPLACE cloves, star anise and spices with a couple of Chai tea bags.
  • PAIR with blue cheese such as Stilton, Gorgonzola or an aged cheddar, or a creamy, nutty bites of Emmental.
  • OR go Nordic and with you Glögg, pair with a pickled herring and crackers, or home made ginger biscuits. Cheese fondues are popular after a glass of mulled wine.
  • FOR an Austrian of central European flavour, perhaps a bite sized pieces of pork schnitzel with a squeeze of lemon, or some apfelstrudel with a little cream.

Before serving, remove clove and cinnamon sticks. Use a fine mesh strainer to pour into a pre-warmed jug.

Spices such as star anise and cinnamon alongside oranges and lemon give mulled wine its familiar taste (Photo Gaby Dyson,, Unsplash)

Bruce McMichael

Food writing, discovering food stories, meeting producers, chefs and food enthusiasts are all part of desire to inspire, inform my readers and fellow food lovers. I am a freelance writer, journalist and published author focusing on the international world of food and drink, culture and travel. In 2019 I graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy with a Masters in Food Culture, Communication and Marketing. I am now a visiting Professor at the university teaching Food & Drink Writing. Based in London I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur. In 2017 I won an episode of the ITV (the UK-based national television channel) cooking competition show, 'Gordon Ramsay's Culinary Genius'. I took my children on holiday to Sicily with the prize money. As an experienced farmers' market manager and operator of a small marmalade/ preserves company, I am very familiar with the issues surrounding local food, farming, enterprise and the environment.