Marauding Mandarin Mulled Wine

“Nose, nose, jolly red nose,

 And who gave me my jolly red nose?

Cinnamon, ginger, nutmegs and cloves,

And that gave me my jolly red nose!” 

Francis Beaumont, ‘Knight of the Burning Pestle’ 1607

Winter is coming… a little faster here in Australia than it is in Westeros. It may not be cold here as it is in some more northern climes or in fantasy books written by George R.R. Martin. And yes, we may gloat to our Northern neighbours that it was so cold today that we had to put on a long sleeved shirt while walking the dog in the morning, still clad in flip-flops and shorts. What I am saying is that cold is relative; when you’re used to 33 degree celcius  days, a 17 degree evening is… brisk? 

Whether you call it spiced wine, mulled wine, gluhwein or gløgg, all are drinks to be enjoyed on a cold and frosty night. Something to keep the heart warm while secure in your mead hall, clad in furs and catching up on what happens to Ragnar Lodbrok in season 3 of Vikings. It’s time to take the edge off the chill, with steaming hot, boozy beverage to flush the cheeks, send the blood rushing to your fingertips with The Culinary Barbarian’s, Marauding Mandarin Mulled Wine.


mulled wine

2 × 750ml bottle cabernet merlot (cleanskins work a treat)

1 Litre water

4 cinnamon quills 

1 vanilla pod, split

6 whole star anise

2 tsp whole cloves

2 tsp grated nutmeg

5cm knob of ginger

5 cardamom pods

½ tsp whole black peppercorns 

4 mandarins, reserve both the peel 

1 cup sugar

Brandy (optional)


  1. Bruise the ginger by crushing with the flat of a kitchen knife and toss into a stock pot with all of the spices. 
  2. Cut the mandarins into quarters and remove the peel. Carefully remove the white pith from the peel and discard the white pith. Toss the mandarin peel into the stock pot along with the juice of the remaining fruit.
  3. Add 1 litre of water and boil until the liquid has reduced by half and the spices are infused.
  4. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
  5. Pour in the wine, stir and cover with the lid. It is important not to remove the lid while the wine is being brought to temp as it will allow the alcohol to evaporate off as steam and not condense on the lid. Bring to drinking temperature, DO NOT BOIL! We want spiced wine, not spiced grape juice.
  6. To serve, ladle into mugs or your favourite handled glasses, each with a cinnamon quill. Any remaining wine can be re-bottled. Strain and funnel the wine into bottles along with an additional cinnamon quill. This can be reheated in the microwave in mugs. 
  7. (optional) To compensate for any alcohol lost during the heating process or just to give it a little extra kick, add a nip of brandy to each mug or 4 nips to a bottle.