“The air was still chilly, and so when they happened into a tiny village store that just happened to have cheap wine, oranges, and cinnamon sticks, Eric’s plan was born.
Back in the communal refugio kitchen, they found more spices and a saucepan, and they set about making hot mulled wine.
The smell drifted through those twisted hallways and low-ceilinged staircases. Pilgrims, young and old, started to drift toward the kitchen. I imagine them like the cartoon characters, floating along the waves of delicious scents, led by their noses.”
In the last three months, I’ve shared my Camino story almost 20 times at bookstores, libraries, travel stores, and outdoor adventure stores across the country. My favorite part of those events is the opportunity to read directly from Walking to the End of the World, and one of my favorite excerpts to read is the story of our long, rainy walk to Astorga (which I’ve shared before on the blog, here). The end of that story, of course, comes when Eric makes hot mulled wine in the Albergue Gaucelmo kitchen.
This part always makes people smile, especially as the weather outside grows colder and darker. In fact, several of them have asked me for that mulled wine recipe.
Since I was asleep when he made it, I turned the question over to my creative, generous, pathologically helpful husband. Here’s what he says about how to make simple, impromptu mulled wine in a Camino albergue…or in your own home for the holidays:
Eric’s Mulled Wine, Camino Style
There are a ton of ways to make mulled wine, and on Camino, you may have to improvise with what’s available. I tend to freehand my mulled wine, and you can always adjust (as long as you have more wine :)).
At the very least, you need:
- heat source and cooking vessel
- wine (red is better than white)
- spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice…can be whole or powdered, depending on what’s available in the kitchen or market)
- citrus (oranges, lemons, limes, or juice of them)
- sweetener (sugar can work, but fruit juice is better because you need some citrus)
- Bonus: sweet liquor like brandy or citrus liqueur like Grand Marnier
1.Pour one 750 mL bottle of wine into a saucepan on medium-low heat
Optional: add up to 1 cup (about 250mL) of liquor
2. Add spices
whole spices: 1 stick cinnamon, 5 whole cloves, 5-10 allspice berries
ground spices: 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1 tsp allspice, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3. Add citrus
1 orange, sliced; 1 lemon, sliced; whatever other fruit sounds good and isn’t mushy
4. Bring mixture to a very gentle simmer (don’t let it boil) for a few minutes
5. Taste the mixture, then add some sweetener (start with 1/2 cup orange juice if you have it, add 1/4 cup of sugar or honey if you don’t).
6. Taste again, and adjust sweetness, spices, and citrus with orange/lemon/lime juice as needed
7. Share with friends (or with strangers who will become friends!)
Related note: Mulled wine goes particularly well with tarta de Santiago, the cake of the Camino. Get the recipe here.