4 bottles medium - to full-bodied red wine (rioja, for example)
500 ml cranberry juice
1 orange (sliced)
1 lemon (sliced)
Place the brown sugar, vanilla pods, cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, orange zest and juice, and lemon zest and juice in a pan. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes to extract the flavour from the aromatics.
Place the wine, cranberry juice and sliced orange and lemon into another pan, then strain in the syrup. Place over medium heat and bring to the boil. Taste to check the sweetness and add more sugar as necessary.
Serve the mulled wine straight from the pan, or pour into jugs.
Variation Non-alcoholic Mulled Wine:
Use the same recipe to make drivers and kids feel part of the party, too: simply use grape juice instead of the wine and reduce the sugar by half.