Quentao,it´s like winter in June
I dont know about you but I have always been accustomed to some mulled wine from November to Christmas.Huddled around the bonfire or wrapped up in mufflers watching fireworks in the garden, there is nothing that warms the cockles more than a seasonal steaming vat of mulled wine.The wafting aromas from the spice laden brew brings warmth and energy.This weekend Casa Rosada provided the venue for an office Christmas party and I thought it would be opportune to proffer our guests with a little warm something on their entrance.I did my research and discovered that mulled wine is not alien to the Portuguese, but more frequently adopted in Brazil where rum is the more popular constituent than red wine. Nowadays apparently, it is not always tradition but the makers means and pocket that determines this decision.
Quentão, (Brazilian mulled wine) literally translated as “Big Heat” and consists basically of a heated mixture of red wine, ginger, sugar, and spices such as cinnamon and cloves… Well, at least in southern Brazil where the largest production of wine is located. In northeastern Brazil, Quentão is made from cachaça instead, a distilled alcoholic white rum made from fermented sugarcane juice. Alas I had no cachaça to hand so I chose to make Quentão de vinho or Brazilian mulled wine as I said earlier.Before someone accuses me of serving alcohol to children (The parties it is normally served at are family affairs) I have to explain that Quentão de vinho is suitable for children because all the wine alcohol content will be evaporated during the boiling process.If you wish, you could use a good quality grape juice instead of red wine.
Brazilian celebrations, Festa Junina, are historically related to European Midsummer.In Brazil however June is the beginning of the Brazilian winter (June to September) and the southern most part of the country, having a sub-tropical climate, can experience temperature falling below freezing during this period.The drink is normally consumed outdoors, so on cold nights round the bonfire this winter warmer is much appreciated. In the north of the country however the drink is increasingly common at Christmas.Those lucky Brazilians are spoilt.They have Caipirinhas in Summer and Quentão in winter.I got cold feet at the last minute and decided to offer a
safer bet to our visitors, but nevertheless made it the next day for ourselves and thank god for the spice who brought us in from the cold.
Quentão de vinho
Brazilian mulled wine
Makes about 6 Glasses
Ingredients:1 litre red wine such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon (or grape juice if desired)
( I used Fontanario de Pegoes)
17 fl. ounces (1/2 liter) of water
1 orange, slicedor zest of tangerine, mandarin or clementine
2 slices of fresh ginger, peeled
4 bay leaves
3 cinnamon sticks
grated nutmeg (optional)
1 cup sugar (or more, if desired)
Place all the ingredients into a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly just until sugar has dissolved (about first 2-3 minutes of heating). Let boil for additional 10 minutes. Strain and serve warm. Garnish as desired.