Cooking, Family, Food and Drink

Food and Drink Post: Mulling it Over

Ugh. It’s been chilly and damp the past few days here at Chateau Right, and my mind is turning to thoughts of warmth, fellowship (as much as our overlords will allow us to indulge in this year, anyway) and festivity. As ever, I’m regretting taking down the Christmas tree all those months ago. It seems like only yesterday when I think of it in terms of a normal year; when I contemplate it through a murky 2020 lens, it seems like a lifetime ago. But in a few days it will be November, and then Thanksgiving, and then time to put it up again. Another year will soon be gone, and then it will be Spring, I promise.

I love the sights, sounds, smells, and rituals of the lead-up to Christmas down here on the farm. And the sense of nostalgia which is enveloping me at the moment got me thinking about a seasonal experience from my childhood, one I think I need to recreate soon, just for old times’ sake.

I’m talking about mulled wine.

It’s easy to make. There are lots of recipes on the Internet. But Dad would just use a red vin ordinaire, add some honey and some sliced oranges and lemons, and some pickling spice. He’d put it all in a metal saucepan, and then set it on the brick hearth in front of a blazing fire to come to room temperature and start to warm a bit.

Then, the magic! He’d stick the poker in the fire, and we’d wait for it to get red hot, or as close thereto as we could manage. And when it was good and hot, he’d plunge it into the wine. We’d watch, fascinated, as it sizzled and bubbled, as little bits of ash floated to the top (these are very important to what whisky snobs call “the finish” of the drink, I think), and as the house filled with the fragrances of warmth and Christmas. Suddenly, no matter the foul weather, or the untoward circumstances of the day or the time, the world righted itself and we were home and snug and safe and loved.

Just thinking about it makes me happy. (I’m easily pleased, as many of you know.)

My own contribution to the spirit (see what I did there) of the season is that every year I make a couple of bottles of fruit cordials. (It’s almost time to get them started.) I like them because 1) the bottles I put them in are pretty, 2) the drinks themselves are pretty, 3) they taste much better than the store-bought variety, and last, but not least, 4) when you take the fruit that’s been soaking for a couple of months in a mixture of booze and sugar and spoon it into, or on top of, vanilla ice cream, it’s delicious.

I’m wondering if you have a special holiday beverage that encapsulates the spirit (stop me before I do it again) of the season for you? One you make, or mix, or which comes straight out of the bottle. Even a non-alcoholic one? (Certain forms of hot chocolate almost do it for me.)

Please share. All suggestions, tips and recipes are welcome.

Happy Upcoming Holidays. We’ll get through all this. Even through next Tuesday.

I promise.

Leave a Reply