This weekend has been the Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day and longest night, and which means - I think - that it will be getting brighter in the mornings and maybe it'll be easier for me to get up before 7.30am from now on.
Growing up, our family and two others used to get together every year on Solstice weekend. We went from all being in Auckland, to one in Wellington, then the other in Palmerston North, Rotorua and others. Each year we would load up the car, deal with sisterly fights over music and the middle seat, and battle car-sickness to all get together. Each family has three kids and one thing was constant wherever the location, and that was mulled wine (for the adults!). Whatever we did during the day, the mulled wine would have been in the slow-cooker all day for the parents to enjoy on the Saturday night. With 9 kids between us we always found ourselves entertained, and these family traditions are pretty funny to look back on. We ended up seeing a lot of the country over the years, and lots of fun was had.
This year I decided that in honour of this history I would make mulled wine for Solstice weekend. I made it for the first time a couple of years ago with my friend Rachel. We'd spent the day getting chilled to the bone watching our mates play soccer, and had gone home to our flat and made a huge batch of spicy pumpkin soup and mulled wine. That time we got the quantities wrong - mixing into a pot 2 bottles of cheap red with the better part of a bottle of brandy. Recapping the recipe the next day with a very hazy head I realised the correct quantities are about 2 tablespoons of brandy to a bottle of red. Tonight I was a little more liberal than Mum's recipe, adding a glug of brandy and a litttle rum (since it was what was in the cupboard) to a cask of soft red. It was spicily, warmly delicious and went exceptionally well alongside 5 amazing fresh pasta courses. They'll be blogged when I'm not quite under the influence of mug after mug. Happy Solstice!
1 cask of soft red wine (or two cheap bottles of red)
A decent glug of brandy or rum (or if it's Saturday night, the better part of a bottle)
An orange or two, stuffed with whole cloves
A cinnamon stick
A splash of orange juice
A sprinkle of brown sugar
A pinch of mixed spice
Put all ingredients in a large pot, or a slow cooker. Bring to heat and allow to infuse. Enjoy in mugs with a group of friends.