As much as I love summer, with its’ long walks on the beach, swims in the cool sea and watching the sun set in the evening over a glass of wine, the smell of braai in the air; the truth is I am a winter person. I love winter. I love the creativity that stirs within me when the air is cooler, the sky grey and foreboding and the smell of rain that brings a freshness to the air. When the weather is warm, I want to be enjoying it outdoors, but when it is cool, I want to hibernate indoors, dive deeply into myself and create. A poem, a story, a painting, a meal. The creative energy and inspiration that winter brings is powerful.
Winter is Merlot and dark chocolate, wellington boots and puddles, warm fluffy blankets and wood fires. It is about being cosy and cuddling up under the duvet, sipping hot coco, watching movies or reading a good book. I love the red wine, roasts and baked puddings that come along with a good winter lunch. Yes it is the season of comfort food that wraps around you like a warm embrace, but not all winter food is unhealthy. Just consider the array of citrus fruits nature has on offer and the wonderful hearty vegetable soups, stews and curries one can create as well.
My first winter recipe right now is to do with a drink rather then a meal - Glühwein. Gluhwein is the German term for a hot spiced wine, similar but not quite the same as Mulled wine. The first time I tasted Glühwein I was 19 and at a restaurant on the drive to Hout Bay via Constantia, in Cape Town. It was a rainy, cold Winter’s evening and myself and some friends were going to listen to a band play. The restaurant, which felt more like a wood-cabin, was cosy and a fire burning in the centre. While the band played we sipped the warm liquid and enjoyed the atmosphere. Fast forward many years and I now associate Glühwein with Winter night markets, specifically the one down the road from where I used to live in Cape town. It was a monthly open air market where one bundled up in coats and hats and sat at the long tables socialising, eating the variety of tasty food on offer and sipping the overpriced but divine Glühwein out of paper cups. I have not yet been to the Christmas Markets in Germany, but I suspect one would find Glühwein on offer there as well.
On Friday afternoon after teaching a yoga class, I glanced up at the dark heavy clouds and decided it was a Glühwein kinda weekend. I had to go buy the relevant spices and wine, before heading home and brewing a batch. It turned out brilliantly. Paired with some mature cheddar and good conversation with a friend, it was a wonderful way to start the weekend.
Welcome Winter, I am ready.
3/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of white sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
1 bottle/750ml of cheap red wine (I used Odd Bins 934 - Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2015)
- In a large pot or saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and cinnamon sticks.
- Bring the mixture to the boil until the sugar melts and then reduce the heat and allow to simmer.
- Cut the orange in half, and squeeze the juice of both halves out into the simmering water.
- Push all the cloves into the outside of the orange peel, and place the peel in the simmering water, along with the star anise.
- Continue simmering for 30 minutes, until thick and syrupy.
- Pour into thick mugs or warm glasses and enjoy by a warm fire with friends!
Photo by Hannah Pemberton on Unsplash