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This potent drink is the Swedish version of mulled wine or gluhwein. It is served in small glasses at festive parties, alongside saffron and raisin buns or gingerbread with blue cheese. Water is not normally used to dilute it, but you can add a cup if you wish. For a non-alcoholic version, follow the recipe using blackcurrant or red grape juice. Serves 6.

1 bottle inexpensive, medium-bodied red wine
6 tablespoons unflavoured Schnapps, vodka or brandy (optional but good)
1-inch piece whole dried ginger (or fresh ginger, peeled and bruised)
2 sticks cinnamon
2 cardamom pods, bruised
6 cloves
1 long strip dried orange peel (or fresh, if you can’t find it)
6 tablespoons brown sugar, or to taste
6 tablespoons raisins
6 tablespoons almonds, blanched, peeled and left whole

1.    Place the wine, Schnapps/ vodka/ brandy, all the spices and orange peel in a non-metallic saucepan or bowl. Leave to marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
2.    When you are ready to serve, divide the almonds and raisins between 6 mugs.
3.    Add sugar to the wine mixture, and heat it gently until it is almost boiling. Do not let it boil, or the alcohol will evaporate. Use a cooking thermometer if you want to be accurate.
4.    Taste the hot wine to ensure that it has the right amount of sugar and spice for your taste; then dilute the wine with water, or add more alcohol or sugar if you wish. Pour the wine through a small sieve into individual glasses. Serve immediately.

WISHING ALL THE READERS MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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