We’ve all heard of Movember by now, with many people sponsoring several friends who are growing a moustache in support of prostate research.

But as winter truly beds down, it’s also the season of spices – as discussed on this blog at length already – with many looking forward to Christmas and the rounds of mulled wine (usually red wine heated with several spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, mace and star anise, and citrus fruits such as oranges or lemons) that will surely follow. The tradition is older than we might think, having originated in ancient Rome, and today there are several variants, including Smoking Bishop (which uses both port and red wine as well as spices and citrus fruits), German and Austrian Glühwein (which is made according to the traditional method, but sometimes has vanilla or even a shot of rum added), and Caribou (the Canadian version, which adds maple syrup).

Naturally, people can buy the whole spices individually and make their own mulled wine from scratch, but enough prefer to buy from packets to make this a big business. Schwartz’s version, for example, uses allspice, cassia, dried orange peel, nutmeg and cloves. However you choose to make your mulled wine, though, Prezzybox’s 1.8-litre mulled wine pot with warmer is an appealing way of serving it. Made in Sweden, it keeps the mulled wine warm on the table in a white stoneware pot with a red snowflake design, thanks to the tea-light heating area underneath.

But what if you’re not drinking this winter? Happily, there are plenty of non-alcoholic options. As well as my recent discovery of chai tea lattes, I’ll never stop extolling the virtues of my favourite spiced berry cordial. Plus, if you’re trying to stay off the sugar and caffeine, there are plenty of other choices, such as Twinings’ Winter Spice infusion (which contains cinnamon, liquorice, rosehip, blackberry and hibiscus) or Teapigs’ spiced winter red tea (using rooibos tea as a base, it builds up the spices with ginko, cinnamon, ginseng and cloves). Other popular alternatives include mulled apple (or cranberry, or grape) juice, mulled cider (or mead), mulled rum punch, and mulled ginger wine.

How far you sweeten all of these is up to you, but it can also depend on the country where it’s being served: in France, for example, it’s unlikely to ever be very sweet, while in Turkey, sweet red wine is used to begin with before even more sugar is added.

But whatever you’re drinking, I wish you a super spicy festive season – and not too many hangovers.

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