The light chill in the air, festive mood all around, Kolkata is all geared up for Christmas. The city is beautifully wrapped in fairy lights and while bakeries smell of plum cake, rich fruit cakes, the festive mood needs a spirited high with some mulled wine.
Christmas celebrations in Kolkata are just not about Christians, but all about having fun, food and joy. The city comes alive. Amidst all the traditional Christmas lunch from turkey, grilled vegetables, to roast chicken and fresh bread, it’s warm mulled wine that becomes a favourite on the table. We all have heard and even tried mulled wine but barely know where it came from or how it became so popular.
A concoction that originated in the 2nd century was a Roman creation. They made sure that their love for mulled wine spread across their empire and the regions they did trade with.
Abhishek Chamaria, Ministry of Booze says “Nothing defines winter like a steaming mug of spiced booze, whether it’s cider or the perfect mulled wine. You know Christmas is on its way when you have your mitts wrapped around a mug of mulled wine! Mulled wine, also known as spiced wine, is a beverage usually made with red wine along with various mulling spices and sometimes raisins. It is served hot or warm and is usually alcoholic, although there are non-alcoholic versions of it. It is a traditional drink during winters and specially announces the onset of Christmas”.
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Creating own unique blends, making variations from red and white wines to sangria blends and vermouth to port – mulled wine too has seen a facelift. Sudhir Ahuja, owner Bakstage says “Spices lift the flavour and taste and Red wine is an all-time favourite to make this. Cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cardamom, star anise and an untreated orange peel is the best mix to create mulled wine. To sweeten up mulled wine I always choose a little cane sugar, which I find works far better than white sugar”.
Today as mulled wine has become a Christmas tradition; Christmas in Kolkata is like no simple affair, thanks to the long history of British Raj and the Anglo Indian community that gives the city a notable Bengali Christian population. Warm up your chilly winter night with this spiced beauty. Chef Bikram Das, Raajkutir is of the view “Kolkata has shown much love for mulled wine and so there has been an increase in demand in the recent past. Warm mulled wine serves perfect for Kolkata winters. Earlier it wasn’t considered as a very sophisticated beverage. During the Victorian Era, some cheap wines were spiced up to improve the flavour. Nevertheless, we at Raajkutir use some of the very bold, full bodied red wines which we believe is the secret to a good quality mulled wine. Apart from the good quality wine, 3 quintessential ingredients are orange, cinnamon and star anise that add to the flavour. A touch of honey and cloves gives it a lift and makes it smooth. In a few variants, we shall also add some brandy. Earlier mulled wines were served in glasses, but we would also want to try serving in mugs. The reason behind it is, everyone would love to have it warm but it tends to get cold faster in the wine glass”.
So this winter, let mulled wine warm up your spirits and add that extra cheer to the festive season.
Soak into some mulled happiness at these places in the city-
•Ministry of Booze- Rs 300
•Cal 27, Taj Bengal – Enjoy it as part of Christmas Brunch, Rs 3500 + taxes
•Raajkutir- Rs 1499, enjoy this as a part of Christmas brunch and dinner.
•Pa Pa Ya- Rs 750, (you can pair it with their new Dimsum menu.)
•Seasonal Tastes, Westin – Enjoy it as part of Christmas Brunch & Dinner, Rs 2499 + taxes
•Bakstage- Rs 650