The thought of drinking a warm, spiced drink in summer doesn't sound entirely natural to us lot down under basking in the warm summer sun.
But................I promise you can't go past this for a delicious, easy-to-drink (ahem...too easy she says quietly to herself!) Christmas tipple that just begs to be ladled out and shared amongst the ones you love.
1 orange or 2 mandarins
Rind of 2 lemons or lime
250g caster sugar
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
1 whole nutmeg
1 whole vanilla pod, halved
2 star anise
2 bottles of Chianti or other red wine like Merlot, Shiraz
Peel large sections of peel from your mandarins/orange and lemon. Put sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the citrus zest and squeeze in the orange/mandarin juice.
Add the cloves, cinnamon quill, bay leaves, halved vanilla pod and about 10-12 gratings of nutmeg. Pour in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.
Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine and then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for 5 minutes until you have a thick syrup. This creates a good flavour base by getting the sugar and spices to infuse and blend well with the wine. It's important to make the syrup base first because it needs to be quite hot, and if you do it with all the wine in there the alcohol will get burnt off.
When the syrup is ready, turn heat down to low add in the star anise and both bottles of wine. Gently heat the wine and after about 5 minutes when it's warm and delicious ladle into glasses and serve.
Note: I made this early in the day and just left in the pot and reheated gently for a few minutes when I wanted to serve guests arriving for our Christmas party.
If you're like me and you find this incredibly delicious, you may want to use your left-over spices to make another batch pronto...this is going to be top priority on my Christmas Day morning To Do List!
This has been re-posted from last year's Christmas archives, but definitely worth sharing again!