Taking stock of where we are about half way through the festive season it occurs to me that most of what has really frustrated me over the last couple of weeks has been the preponderance of mulled wine and other hot booze offerings that have been thrust upon me*.
Now I’ve not always harboured a disliking for mulled wine, indeed whilst I was working at Ashdown Park, I spent the best part of a winter attempting to perfect my recipe; somewhat pressing at the time due to the rather rubbish wine that we had to work with for mulling.
|Punk Orange courtesy of +MsMarmiteLover Msmarmitelover|
But it has slowly dawned on me, that, rather like little children being employed to fire peas at windows to wake people up, it is an historical anachronism. Taxi’s, busses and all my friend’s houses are all pretty warm. This means that we’re now much less in need of warming, heartening glasses of sweetened alcohol to warm our tired and travel weary bodies. Yes, I will concede that if you’ve spent a day out hiking in snow covered hills you might still find your body and spirit in need of the uplift that comes with hot sweet booze, however I’ve not spent any time in snow-covered hills, the most stressful festive experience I’ve endured this year has been a very hot and steamy 176 bus. I do not need my wine mulling.
You might wish to argue that there is a wonderful festive tradition of serving mulled booze; I believe this is wrong, mulling, spicing and generally adulterating wines was a necessary evil in times gone by, wine was much less stable and chances are it would be more vinegary than fruity, so a whack of luxurious sugar and expensive spicing would make it much more acceptable and indeed much more of a festive offering to your guests.
Sugar is no longer expensive.
Spices are (at least on Rye lane) pretty fucking cheap.
Central heating has been pretty commonplace since the Second World War, at least in the UK and the US.
So I’m going to suggest that instead of ruining wine with heat, spice and ill thought out sugar additions, we should instead raise a glass to William Cullen ** who in 1756 first demonstrated artificial refrigeration. Let’s bear in mind that William was working at Glasgow University, which (and on this I can speak from experience) is not the warmest place in the world, and yet he still saw the need to develop the technology to make enough ice for you to make me a proper martini rather than the sticky, sickly mulled concoctions that he was surely rebelling against.
* Hot buttered rum, if done well, is acceptable. Though I'd strongly advocate following Felix Cohen of the Manhattans Project's recipe (and stabilising with something like xantham gum to stop the butter splitting if you're making it in batches)
** Nothing to do with Twilight, which amongst it's many failings (vampire's should not fucking glitter, it's wrong and teen sex really ought to be encouraged) doesn't have any decent cocktail recipes.