Christmas is a time for traditions. Old ones, new ones and those that Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without. When I was growing up, my family never subscribed to the ‘traditional turkey and all the trimmings’ Christmas day fare. But whilst our meals might not be traditional, we still have things we do, year in, year out. The one that seems to have stuck is creeping through to the living room on Christmas morning, making a pot of tea and opening our presents before breakfast is even mentioned. Although it has been years since I’ve lived at home, this is a tradition that’s completely ingrained in me now, and I couldn’t think of starting Christmas Day in any other way.
One thing that really excites me about this time of year is making new traditions. In the nearly eight years Rob and I have been together, we’ve developed our own set of must-do things over the festive period. Every Christmas Eve, we eat lunch at The Dome, and I always end my meal by sipping a French Martini, whilst trying to figure out how they got that Christmas tree up there (all these years later I’m still none the wiser). I then go home, pop open a bottle of bubbly, which we share whilst singing along to the She and Him Christmas album, another thing we feel we simply ‘have to do’.
We also always watch Elf, which we can now quote line-by-line, and talk at length about how much fun it would be to stage our own rendition of the “Santa! I know him!” scene in the John Lewis toy department. Whilst watching this film we work our way through some homemade mulled wine.
I prefer a fruitier-tasting interpretation of this Christmas favourite, so I add a selection of dried fruits, which makes all the difference. Here’s my recipe, which will give around six small glasses:
- 1 bottle of red wine
- 1 clementine, halved
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tbsp sultanas
- 4 dried figs
- 5 dried apricots
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 tbsp of light brown sugar
- Add the wine (for this recipe I used a bottle of Merlot), to a saucepan with all of the remaining ingredients. Heat over a moderate heat, and stir to make sure the sugar dissolves. Don’t allow the wine to boil at any point.
- Once the sugar has melted, turn the heat down. Allow the wine to sit on the lowest heat for around 25 minutes, so that all the flavours will infuse.
- If you are serving straight away, strain and ladle into glasses. If you are making this in advance, don’t remove the fruits and spices until you drink the wine. This will allow the flavours to intensify further.
Not only is this drink delicious, it also gives me an excuse to get my beloved Ikea glass mugs out. Accompanied by mince pies and Buddy the Elf, this really is the perfect Christmas tradition.