Posts Tagged ‘mulled wine’

New Fairtrade Organic Mulling Wine Sachets from Steenbergs

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

It might have caused me sleepless nights and given me an undue amount of heartache and stress, but Steenbergs new range of Mulling Wine Spices in sachets has finally arrived.  It’s about 1½ months behind schedule and we have been having to disappoint some customers for about a month, but it’s here and looks absolutely fantastic.  I am actually really proud of it.mulled wine cut out

They taste divine and pack a lot of exotic, Chistmassy flavours – cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.  These Steenbergs sachets have stacks more flavour than those of the classic high street insipid, bland infusions.

The idea came out of a germ of a thought in mid-summer as I was thinking about what we needed to do about Christmas products.  The answer was pretty obvious – Mulling Wine spices.  But we already did these as loose spices, spices mixed in with sugar; they were already available via the classic Steenbergs range as organic products, as Fairtrade and in my esoteric versions based around Mediaeval hippocras recipes from the Elizabethan times.

We needed somehow to do them in a more practical packaging and yet to differentiate ourselves from the likes of Schwartz and Shropshire Spice on the retailer’s shelf with great design. 

It also allowed me to test one of my dreams and aims as a spice merchant, which is simply to get some of the blending and packing done for us in India or Sri Lanka; after all that’s where the spices are grown and processed, so they will be fresher packed at source, and the BRIC countries themselves are probably going to be richer and technologically stronger than us in a matter of years not centuries.

From that point onwards, nothing seemed to go right.

The designer designed the packets which were beautiful but then the printers in Sri Lanka couldn’t download the design so it had to be couriered out.  After this, they decided not to look at it again for a few months in spite of daily questioning as to how it was getting along, by which time they wanted a change made, but our designer literally went into labour as we asked her so no amendments were possible.

Our original aim was for one of our tea suppliers to bag the spices, which seems logical, but they were suspended from Fairtrade during the packing so we couldn’t use them and had to change to a contract packer based in Colombo, called Amazon Trading.  The Fairtrade spices from Kerala were late in arriving, then there was some trouble with the process for cutting the spices into tea bag cut, which has now been ironed out. 

Next, just as it was trying to leave Sri Lanka, the paperwork was filled out incorrectly as Mulled Wine so there was a lot of toing and froing accusing us of trying to export alcohol and that we didn’t have the correct paperwork.

That got sorted out and then it was transported to the UK in short order, cleared and immediately has started going out speedily.

It has been a good trial and now all the teething has hopefully been teased out.  The product is still going into store way in advance of Christmas so should sell well as the pricing is good for shops and it looks attractive.  Samples are being sent out to all sorts of possible buyers for Christmas 2010 – yes, bigger stores are already working on 2010.

I also think that getting spices and teas packed at source can work but communications are hard and you probably need to hold more buffer stocks than I had hoped to manage the peaks & troughs and mitigate the things that will naturally just go plain wrong.

Here’s how to make the Mulled Wine:

75cl bottle red wine
100ml   Water
3tbsp    Sugar (ideally light brown)
1          Steenbergs Mulled Wine Sachet
Orange, sliced (optional)
Lemon, sliced (optional)
1tbsp    brandy or sweet fruit liqueur

Put the Mulled Wine Spice Sachet, sugar and water into a saucepan.  Bring this to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Simmer for 5 – 10 minutes.  Now add the wine and any of the optional extras that takes your fancy.  Heat up to just below boiling point and stir gently for 5 minutes, making sure that it does not boil as all the alcohol will evapourate.  Serve warm in mugs or wine glasses.

For a non-alcoholic alternative, replace the red wine with 750ml of red grape juice and replace the water with 250ml orange juice.

Mulling Wine – Recipes For Mulled Wine Syrup and a Medieval Hippocras

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

 

I know it seems a bit early in the year, especially as the weather outside is absolutely gorgeous – no wind and the sky is a beautiful azure. 

 

So on a beautiful summer’s day, here I am trying to design a new mulling wine product which is probably for Christmas 2010 as most buyers for shops have already worked out their purchases for Christmas 2009.

 

One really great idea that I have decided not to do any more with is mulled wine syrup.  It’s something I made last Christmas, but we only deal with dry products at Steenbergs so working out how to make this syrup just became too complicated.

 

Mulled wine syrup

 

½ tsp    Whole allspice berries

1tsp      Whole cloves, or coarse ground

½ tsp    Ground nutmeg, ideally quite coarse, so use a nutmeg grater

2tsp      Ground cinnamon (Sri Lankan cinnamon is much nicer than Chinese cinnamon or cassia from China, Indonesia or Vietnam)

½         Orange

½         Lemon

125g     Sugar

600ml   Water

 

Chop up the orange and lemon, leaving the peel on.  Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 1 hour with the lid on the pan (don’t evapourate off as this is really precious).  Strain through a fine sieve and bottle.

 

To use, take 1 measure of syrup to 2 measures of wine.  Heat to just below boiling point and serve in glasses.

 

Whatever you do, don’t buy the pre-mixed mulled wine that’s available in some shops at Christmas.  It tastes horrible and is full of chemicals trying to mimic the taste of spices. 

 

Fairtrade mulled wine

Fairtrade mulled wine

 

Medieval hippocras 

Making your own mulled wine is really simple – you could use the above syrup, or how about trying a medieval style flavouring called a hippocras.

 

2          75cl bottles red wine

200ml   Water

6tbsp    Sugar

2tsp      Cinnamon powder

1tsp      Cassia powder (cinnamon powder from China, Indonesia, Vietnam)

½tsp     Ginger powder

½tsp     Grains of paradise

Pinch    Nutmeg powder

Pinch    Galangal

 

Put the spices, sugar and water into a saucepan.  Bring this to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Simmer for 5 – 10 minutes.  Now add the wine and heat up to just below boiling point and stir gently for 5 minutes, making sure that it does not boil as all the alcohol will evapourate.  Serve warm in mugs or wine glasses.

 

For anyone interested, the above recipe has been adapted from the following recipe from Le Viandier de Taillevent from about 1375, but I’ve tweaked in amounts to be more practical to how you could make it at home and reduced the sugar level as the original is horribly sweet.  You’re welcome to up the sugar if you want to.

 

8 oz      Sugar

1 quart Wine

½oz      Spice mixture

 

The spice mixture is:

 

4oz       Cinnamon

1oz       Mecca ginger

1/12oz Nutmeg

1oz       Grains of paradise

2oz       Cassia flowers

1/12oz Galingale

 

Take four ounces of very fine cinnamon, 2 ounces of fine cassia flowers, an ounce of selected Mecca ginger, an ounce of grains of paradise, and a sixth of an ounce of nutmeg and galingale combined. Crush them all together. Take a good half ounce of this powder and eight ounces of sugar, and mix it with a quart of wine.