December has arrived and so has my first mulled wine of the season. The heady warm spiced aroma transports me back to various Ghosts of Christmases past quicker than you can say Ebenezer Scrooge. Most are pleasant: boxing day races, vin chaud on slope side cafes, country pubs, friends, family and warm bellies.
Some are less than pleasant.
As a student I once let my German neighbours hold a Gluhwein party in my halls room. It was so thick and pungent with cloves, citrus and raisins that after filtering a couple of glasses through the gap in my front teeth I moved onto something easier, and regrettably stronger. Awaking the next morning to floors and walls coated with sticky red mush was no comfort to my raging hangover.
This weekend was a rather more civilized event. A warm flat, steamed up wine glasses and a distinct smell of Christmas. Like any good house party punch bowl the strength varied through the night. Additional bottles went in, too much alcohol boiled off, whisky was added and more cloves spiced up the mix.
Although a welcome introduction to the festive season, the main problem was the comfortable setting. When it comes to mulled wine, vin chaud or whatever you call it there is no doubt that it tastes best drunk out of a plastic cupwedged between mittens outside on a freezing winters day.