I've been asked a lot today for a non alcoholic Mulled wine, which we do not sell, so this seems like a good time to offer a recipe. I can find the mention of Mulled wine a bit triggering; we either have to much of it in a teetering pile that's threatening to crush me, or not enough and people who can't be bothered to make their own are behaving like it's the end of the world.
It's not the end of the world because it's remarkably easy to make (I know I post about this every year, but it never goes away) and so is an alcohol free version. You could use de alcoholised wine - although I don't think I would. I'd be more inclined to start with apple juice as a base, or maybe a mix of cranberry, blueberry, and/or pomegranate along with grape. I might miss out the grape altogether because I find it a bit sweet.
Fruit juice or juices chosen it's simply a matter of putting it in a pan along with a couple of cinnamon sticks, a few cloves, a slice of fresh ginger if you want to give it some pep and half a dozen lightly crushed cardamom pods, also star anise but go easy on that, it can easily over power the other flavours. You can also grate in a bit of nutmeg - but the point of making your own is to experiment a bit to get something you really like.
If you're using an apple base a few slices of apple, and some lemon peel look good, you could also throw in some raisins, or fresh cranberries. Gently heat everything together until it just reaches a simmer and hold it there for 20mins to half an hour for the flavours to really mingle. If you want it sweeter add a bit of sugar.
If it's not apple based oranges, whole with the cloves stuck in them, or sliced, are excellent, or you could use clementines. You could also use the pre mixed wine mulling spices, but they're expensive for what you get and chances are most of what you want is already on your spice rack. And that's it. Throw a few things in a pan, heat it up, leave it be for 20 minutes, serve it. Festive and family friendly.
When I bought Philip Pullman's 'Grimm Tales for Young and Old' it was a slightly guilty purchase - but obviously I need multiple versions of these stories, and Pullman is a master story teller so of course his take on them would be worth reading. It was an entirely accurate justification and I'm very glad I did buy this book. Like the mulled fruit juice it really is good for young and old.
Pullman puts enough flesh on the bones of the stories to make them fun to read, but doesn't interfere with the darkness or brutality of the source material. Each one then ends with its tale type, source, a list of similar stories from a range of sources, and Pullman's own commentary and insights. It's been around for a while (since 2012) but I only came across it this year. It would be the perfect stocking filler type gift for anybody who likes a good fairytale, or anybody who enjoys good story telling.