Spice Mountain's answer to creating Britain's favourite seasonal drink at home
There is arguably nothing more Christmassy than the smell of mulled wine—the seasonal drink that’s been warming hands and bellies since time immemorial. And with Spice Mountain’s mulled wine spice bombs, it’s never been easier to recreate this alluring scent at home.
“We use a real mixture of whole spices,” explains owner Magali Russi. “Juniper, mace, coriander seed—which adds a lovely hint of citrus to the mix—ginger, allspice, cloves and cardamom. It’s sweet, aromatic—it’s Christmas.”
The spices, sourced by Magali from all over the world, are shipped to her Herne Hill production unit before being hand tied in natural muslin cloth. “Our mulled wine spice bombs contain exactly the same mix as our packet blend, but it’s easier to just drop one of these in,” she continues.
Shot of brandy
“Use one per batch of mulled wine—that is, one bottle of red wine, some orange slices, and we suggest a shot of brandy, as well as something to sweeten it. I like to add about a tablespoon of brown sugar, just to balance out the flavour.”
Simply add all of the ingredients to a pan, drop in a bomb, bring the liquid to a simmer, then leave the spices to infuse in the wine for 15-20 minutes. But, Lucia at the stall warns, make sure it never boils “or the alcohol will disappear. And we don’t want that!”—agreed.
Fortunately for non-drinkers, though, the spice blend works equally well with non-alcoholic drinks. Magali suggests infusing some into apple or pear juice instead of wine—“that way the children can have some too.”
The other vital component when pondering the creation of the perfect mulled wine is, of course, the wine. Christophe at Borough Wines reassures us it’s not necessary to get out the vintage Bordeaux to make something special. “You’d be a fool to!” he implores. “I would suggest buying a decent bottle of wine that’s good quality, but not too expensive—around £10 for a bottle should do it.”
But surely the better the wine, the better the result? Here, at least, such is not the case. “When you heat up wine you change its molecular structure,” he explains. “Once it cools down it’s unrecognisable—undrinkable, in fact. The wine is there to keep you warm, if you used expensive wine it would just be wasted.” That’s settled, then.
When it comes to choosing wine, Christophe also suggests sticking to classic red, rather than white. “Some people like it, but I’m not convinced. It is too acidic. With red it’s warming, it has body, it’s fruity, and the acidity is a little more hidden.”
But making mulled wine isn’t the only thing you can do with Magali’s mulled wine mix. Magali suggests poaching fruit such as apples or pears in spice-infused water. “It’s great for when you’re making a traditional Christmas cake,” she advises.
“It works with anything like that”—such as, for example, Lesley Holdship’s mulled quince with cinnamon cream. For an extra kick of flavour, simply swap out the cinnamon stick and cloves in this recipe for a Spice Mountain mulled wine bomb, for a delicious, wintry dessert.