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Oranges in mulled wine syrup

The combination of citrus, spices and wine is much enjoyed as a hot drink at Christmas time, but I like the blend even better like this, served cool as a spicy fruit salad, with luscious slices of orange to sink your teeth into. Photo: Simon Wheeler.


Pare 3 or 4 thin strips of zest from one of the oranges (making sure you leave all the bitter white pith behind).

Put the wine and sugar in a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, then add the orange zest, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, allspice berries and peppercorns.

Bring to a simmer and allow to bubble gently for about 10 minutes until the wine is reduced by about half and lightly syrupy.

Leave to cool completely. Slice all the peel and pith away from all the oranges: to do this, cut a slice off the base and stand the orange on a board.

Then use a sharp knife to cut down through the peel and pith, slicing it away completely, in sections, so you have a whole orange with no white pith left at all.

Slice the oranges horizontally into rounds around 3mm thick. Place in a large bowl, along with any juice. Pour the mulled wine syrup over the orange slices. Cover and leave to macerate in the fridge for at least a few hours (up to 24) to allow the flavours to develop.

Take out of the fridge half an hour or so before serving to bring to room temperature. The oranges and their spicy liquor are delicious just as they are – but a little ginger biscuit on the side is rather good.

Serving suggestions


Dried figs in spiced wine

Use the same ingredients as above, but up the wine to 500ml and substitute 250g dried figs for the oranges. Trim the tough little stalk ends off the figs, then put them in a pan with the wine, sugar and spices. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then simmer gently for around 30 minutes, or until the figs are tender. Transfer to a bowl, leave to cool in the syrup, then chill. Serve with a spoonful of thick yoghurt or crème fraîche.

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  • 5 medium oranges
  • 250ml red wine
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 2 cloves
  • 1-–2 star anise
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 6 black peppercorns

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Fruit Every Day!

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