Make the ultimate festive mulled wine in three simple and easy steps

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History

On cold nights when the decorations are up and the fire is burning, there’s a drink we Brits turn to, which warms us up and fill us with all kinds of Christmas joy. Yes, you guessed correctly; it’s mulled wine of course! Despite having an ancient history, this popular drink is almost exclusively drunk during the Christmas season nowadays. Some of our best corporate Christmas parties will involve mulled wine at some point. It’s that perfect combination of festive flavours, with a cheeky kick to get all the conversation and sing-alongs going.

If you don’t already know, mulled wine is a blend of red wine, sweeteners in the form of sugars and fruit and a variety of mixed spices that will flavour the drink. What goes into this spice mix has been up for debate and has changed over the many centuries that this drink has existed.

Wine originally came to our shores with the Romans. They were experts in all things vino, but entering colder climates such as Scotland, created an understandably need for a hot drink. Their impressive empire allowed them to bring spices in from all over the world, and thus a heated spiced wine drink was invented! Fast forward 1000 years and the mulled wine we recognise today was found in a medieval cookbook. The ‘Forme of Cury’ is a cookbook from 1390 which has a printed recipe for mulled wine inside. So if you think about it, you’re literally drinking history when you indulge in the mulled wine at Christmas!

The beverage has gone through many iterations over the years, and all the famous names in the world of cooking have had a go. Delia and Jamie Oliver are just two who have created their very own interpretations. But with all these variations around, what is the perfect recipe for the ultimate mulled wine after all this time? Well you’re in luck, as we’ve found it and made sure to write it down so you can make the perfect festive drinks every year. Who knows, in a thousand years, maybe someone will find this blog…

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Ingredients

Enough for 12 servings

  • 2 unwaxed oranges
  • 1 lemon, peel only
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 5 cloves, plus extra for garnish
  • 5 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 bottles of fruity, unoaked red wine
  • 150ml ginger wine

Step 1

The first step is to pre-heat a large saucepan. While this is on, peel and juice a whole orange and pour into the pan along with the peel of one lemon. The sugar and spice all go in afterwards. Cover the ingredients with red wine, but only so they are just covered. Mix this with a wooden spoon until all the sugar has dissolved. Then boil on high heat for 5 minutes, reducing the mixture until a thick like syrup.

Step 2

While the syrup is forming, prepare another orange by cutting it in to six equal segments. Stud the skin with cloves in a straight line. These will be used as a garnish for the final drink.

Step 3

The last step is all about melding the flavours together. You’ll want to infuse the wine with that amazing syrup you’ve just created! Turn the heat down, pour the remaining red wine in and leave it on a low simmer. Add the ginger wine and when it’s suitably hot , you’re ready to serve! Just make sure you leave it on a low heat when serving.

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Mulled wine can be a ‘love it or hate it’ part of the holidays, but no matter how much of a scrooge you are, this tasty recipe will make you fall in love again with this delicious drink!

The Best Pre-Christmas Mini Breaks

Christmas is one of the best holidays of the year. There are family meals, presents, the best TV of the year and the ubiquitous company Christmas party. To some this is heaven, to others it can be hell. Because the festive period is at the end of the year, there’s a lot of people with holiday days left to burn, meaning it’s a great time of the year to get away. There is always a good reason for a mini break and the pre-Christmas season doesn’t have to be a time where you can’t enjoy going away on an amazing trip – here’s our top choices for pre-Christmas mini breaks!

Canary Islands

The most obvious reason for getting away from December in the UK is to get somewhere with a bit of heat and where the sun’s shining. The Canary Islands are a year-round sunshine heaven, where it rarely goes below 20C. In addition, these islands are around only four hours on the plane!

The various islands all provide something different depending on your taste. Tenerife is perfect for the classic family holiday experience with pools, beaches and water parks. Fuerteventura is an outdoor playground where the wind blows and the waves crash. Surfing and windsurfing are great choices if you don’t mind getting wet, whilst the desert like interior is good for hiking or cycling. Lanzarote boasts plenty of artistic sights thanks to the islands celebrated artist Cesar Manrique who helped shape the appearance of this fantastic island today.

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Munich

If you’re looking for something to take your Christmas to another level, then a trip to the home of modern Christmas is a must. You will be ashamed of your own decorations once you go to Munich. This historic city is beautiful without being lit up, but at Christmas it comes alive. The trees are beautifully adorned and the lights make you feel like you’re in a winter wonderland (which doesn’t cost a fortune to get into!). What’s even better is that this great city is just a few hours flight.

Enjoy the real German cuisine instead of those awkward attempts at your local Christmas market. Once you try the beer here too, you’ll wonder why you even bother with those markets in the first place!

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New York

It is fair to say that a large part of modern Christmas is presents, and with that comes a lot of shopping. We now worship the gods of retail and nowhere can you find a better selection than in New York. The city is home to all the biggest global brands as well as some special American ones which you can’t get in the UK.

The city also has famous department stores like Macy’s which are often depicted in your favourite Christmas films. The city is ever more affordable to reach and with around an 8.5 hour flight time from London, you can actually do a nice long weekend in the city, just like you would be able to in Europe. Just make sure you bring enough luggage space for all your shopping!

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Iceland

If you can’t stand Christmas and are fed up with the constant advertising and feeling forced to be spend money, then you might feel the only way to escape would be to leave the planet itself. It’s quite expensive to hire a rocket ship from NASA, but if you still have time to summon your escape, then there is no ‘other worldly’ country better than Iceland. This Island nation looks like something from a sci-fi film with its sparse rocky landscape riddled with active volcanoes. You can visit the geysers or hot spas and forget all about the festive chaos at home.

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Lapland

We can’t think what Christmas would be like without Santa Claus. He’s part of our folklore, entertainment and let’s be honest; marketing. If you want a mini break somewhere that represents Christmas, then you can’t get much better than Mr. Claus hometown of Lapland. This area of northern Finland is reportedly where the great man lives. You can go on the hunt for his home and elf factory, where they seem to be able to make perfect replicas of commercial products…

Even if you don’t find what you’re looking for, this winter wonderland with reindeers, snow and incredible landscapes will have you returning home and believing in Santa all over again!

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Why you absolutely need to organise your festive celebration at this grand hotel in Reading

A Reading office Christmas party feels a little too close to the bone sometimes, being the hometown of Ricky Gervais and David Brent. But you can easily avoid any awkwardness or disappointment by experiencing a beautiful hotel and one of Reading’s best venues for your company Christmas party.

Located right in the centre of Reading and just a stone’s throw from the river Thames, you will have no problem finding it. From the outside, you can tell that you’ve got a sophisticated venue for your Christmas do. Even just walking through the doors will feel like an event as you marvel at its architectural style. You probably know Reading well, but if you’re situated out of town, then you’ll love the buzz of this city which is becoming ever more popular.

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The interiors of this hotel are just as stunning as the outside, and its opulence will make you forget about work and focus on the task at hand – celebrating Christmas! Having a delicious festive meal and party with your colleagues will give them something to look forward to and the perfect opportunity for a bit of bonding. If you choose the perfect party they may even come back to work in the new year better than when they left it!

This hotel is a glamorous location for any event, so hosting your Christmas party here will show your colleagues just how much you value them. The designs inside of the venue are luxurious and dare we say, sexy. It will truly feel like a special occasion at this venue, where the beautiful decorated rooms and atmosphere will have you in high spirits for the Christmas break by the time you leave.

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This venue is a triple threat, offering three diverse kinds of price points and options. You can choose the shared lunch option, where your workforce will enjoy an amazing three course meal celebrating all things traditional about festive foods. There’s roast turkey from Norfolk, succulent legs of lamb, or if you’re a vegetarian, then you can have perfectly prepared gnocchi. After this, you will enjoy some tea and coffee to help wash down some delicious homemade mince pies. What better way to get that Christmas buzz than through the stomach?

The aim of the chefs and kitchen in the hotel is to create a menu in line with the richness and grandness of the building itself. Not only is the food exquisitely made and served, but the people involved are passionate about it.

If you’re still wanting more Christmas joy then the night doesn’t have to end with a mince pie! You and your colleagues can go further with the Christmas Dinner and Disco Night package where you get the chance to let your hair down and hit the dancefloor. A DJ will spin some of the biggest tunes and some festive classics that will have you tapping your feet to begin with, and then embarrassing yourself by the end. Every office will benefit from the bonding that can only occur on a dancefloor after a few too many mulled wines.

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If you don’t like sharing and want to take your Christmas party somewhere with some privacy then this venue can accommodate all of the team if you take up an exclusive option. This top exclusive package includes all of the above benefits, but with your very own function room. You will be waited on hand and foot by the venue’s excellent staff. This will truly make your Christmas party stand out from the rest and is the best option for those wanting to do something extra special this holiday season.

Book your party places at this amazing Reading venue today to secure your favourite dates and avoid disappointment!

Discover this top Hyde Park venue this Christmas that’s shrouded in history and opulence

When it comes to central London, only exclusivity and sophistication will do. This fantastic venue in the heart of the city boasts plenty of that and has history dripping off every edge. Located in upscale Westbourne Terrace this road has been the home of John Constable and the wedding site of Oscar Wilde. A Christmas party here will be in esteemed company.

Even from the outside, you’ll be impressed. Built in 1842, the building is Grade II listed and is situated in a stunning location. Hyde Park is just around the corner, with all its serenity in the middle of the metropolis of London, where all the most exclusive postcodes surround you.

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The beauty is not just on the outside however, because the interiors of the venue is decked out in antiques, which have been handpicked to suit every room. The walls are covered in breath-taking paintings and portraits which adds to the opulence of this stunning venue. The interiors and atmosphere of this place really sets the tone for a luxurious evening, and in these plush surroundings you and your colleagues will be sure to feel like royalty.

This year, the venue is offering exclusive hire for groups to celebrate the festive season. That’s right, you’ll find no strangers here. Just your work colleagues and the excellent staff, who will provide you with a Christmas to remember, where you’ll enjoy some well-earned respite from all the demanding work that you have done over the past year. A workforce will always want to feel appreciated, which in turn will produce better results, and if you choose this venue, your team will instantly know how grateful you are for their hard work.

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The night will start off just right with a festive glass of mulled wine to warm you from the cold outside, and to whet your appetite for the delectable meal to come. The decadent three course meal will be a treat for your taste buds and you’ll wish you could have this level of food on Christmas day itself.

There is the classic roast Norfolk turkey or a tender leg of lamb to choose for the main, which will keep everyone satisfied and happy. There are also delicious vegetarian options available too, so no one will have to miss out! Finish off the dining experience with some home baked mince pies. These are so good, just don’t tell your family designated mince pie maker how good – we don’t want them to be jealous!

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Like any good Christmas party, it all has to end in a song and dance. Even if this is a sophisticated affair, there’s plenty of time to get unsophisticated on the dancefloor after the meal. Let your hair down and have fun dancing the night away to your favourite tunes and festive hits. This is where the best memories are made and you’ll be talking about colleague’s dance styles for many months after!

This venue offers a party in decadent surroundings on the historic streets of London. People have enjoyed partying in this part of London for centuries and you’ll be another group who gets to enjoy its luxury and sophistication with a Christmas party that’s a cut above the rest.

Available for private parties of 10 to 36 guests on an exclusive use basis only, with dates available throughout December and January – Book your private festive celebration today!

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