Festive drinks parties with friends are always good fun but last year I found that I had grown completely sick and tired with one serious white-head on the face of the festive season, and that is the Christmas party drink itself: Mulled wine.
From the dawn of wine production man has worked tirelessly to cultivate, nurture, and evolve this special drink only to rape his creation with heat, sugar and a teabag full of twigs. I am told that ‘mulling’ goes back to medieval times and the brews were named ‘Ypocras’ or ‘Hippocras’ after the physician Hippocrates because they were thought to keep people healthy in the winter months. No wonder people died at thirty.

What’s more depressing is that pubs serve up this sticky gruel and charge punters the same price as a normal glass of wine. Mulled wine is so often sickly and muddy with all that gunk floating around in it that I sometimes think a puddle of hot mud would be better. I will concede that the smell is not that bad, then again I like the smell of petrol but I don’t drink the stuff. Not only is the idea of Mulled wine bad it’s also the quality of the wine people put in it.  The biggest misconception is that because the wine is being ‘spiced’ the quality of the wine is irrelevant. I think its quite the opposite. Cheap red wine often contains additives and is imbalanced by too much acid and not much fruit. Once boiled, a lot of the alcohol is lost as well as water and all one is left with is a more concentrated version of something that wasn't nice to start with.

So if you do insist on ‘mulling’, here are some tips which might, and I say 'might', make the product more bareable: I find its better if people dig deeper and go for a slightly more expensive wine - something around £6.99. Your wallet might get a headache but you won’t!  In terms of the type, most might agree that something with a fairly full body, Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz seem to work quite well. Perhaps a bottle of Merlot thrown in adds a bit of natural fruitiness and hence may stem the need for the usual diabetes-inducing addition of tons of sugar.  I am told that fresh, grated ginger and spices that havn't been sitting in the cupboard for ten years should help to keep the ingredients as fresh as possible and the drink a bit 'zestier'. Someone told me that a fresh chilli thrown in is good!

That said,  a glass of champagne will do just fine thankyou.
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