The Same Cup of Mulled Wine, But Two Completely Different Aftertastes
I was in the middle of a reunion with my friends at their place. It was Christmas and my friend made us a big pot of mulled wine.
“Have you guys tried this before? There’s some more in the kitchen if you guys want a refill,” said my friend as she steadily served us the drinks.
“Ah… the classic hot mulled wine for Christmas, how reminiscent.”
“Oh, yea? Reminiscing how?”
And so I recollected.
It had been way too long since I was back home. Even longer since I had left the stressful life behind.
It was winter when this happened, and it all began with my first ever experience of “snow” in my life — what Asians would like to call a “White Christmas”. Or at least, what my family back home would often tell me.
It was also my first ever experience of a Christmas market.
I’d decided to take a pause on work, I was so over it and so I needed a break.
Warm-white lights, breezy wind, smoking stoves, crowded stalls.
The scenery caught all of my attention — the mega-size Ferris wheel and all. I had to admit, this was the first time that this city had finally appeared to be beautiful to me.
No offense to anyone.
But if you ask me, my bias would suggest that I prefer home a lot more.
Who wouldn’t after all? Who would rather live abroad alone, in a foreign city just like that?
I took out my phone and started to video record everything as I toured around.
I had to.
I had never experienced such a festive atmosphere before; Christmas back home was as hot as summer, at most it only meant a few day-offs for me. I had to send this to my parents, they had always wanted to see a White Christmas.
I continued until I arrived at the stalls that were full of menus hanging on the rim of their windows.
Hot Mulled Wine……………………………..£4.89
I wasn’t usually a drinks-kind-of-person. I rather prefer food, chewable things more. Besides, drinks in here were expensive. Water does the same thing, and I drink from the tap.
But somehow, maybe because of the atmosphere, I was drawn to this single item over all other things, the Nutella crepes, the cinnamon churros, all that.
“Excuse me, what exactly is a mulled wine?”
“It’s eh…red wine cooked in a wee bit of spices.”
Call me dumb, but this was the first time that I realized wine could be prepared hot.
I had to. And so I did.
“Here’s your change. Cheers.”
The bartender watched me as if I was handicapped. My fingers were too stiff to function properly as I struggled to put the coins away. Not to mention that I had to hold the cup steadily.
“No worries dear, take your time.”
I laughed awkwardly and quickly got my hands onto the steaming cup.
Jez, I almost forgot what warmth feels like.
So I took a good sniff before anything. It was very aromatic. Cinnamon, citrus…and some other spices that I couldn’t tell.
Then, I took my first sip. There was a tint of tangerine within the initial sensation, with an earthy and spicy flavor fading in later on. Then came the aftertaste of the typical bitterness from the red wine.
I couldn’t tell if I liked it or not. All I know is that this miraculous drink was enough to warm me up, after the long stressful day that I had been through.
Within the bitterness, there was also a feeling of reward. As if, I could finally get to taste something good, something warm, after some good tiresome hours.
I don’t hate it. I thought.
Okay, I’ll admit it was actually kind of nice.
I was staring into the mug of mulled wine that had been sitting on my lap for quite some time. Into the deep red liquid that had now invaded the entire room with its scent of spices; and into the reflection within.
It was the same cup of mulled wine, but two completely different aftertastes. Something was lacking this time, something was missing. I wasn’t feeling the same satisfaction this time.
The feeling of reward. Something good, something warm, after some good tiresome hours.
As a matter of fact, it wasn’t the recipe. For as far as I know, at the end of hardship comes happiness.
“It’s been quite a while…It’s time,” I said in contemplation.
“To work hard again.”