Warming up bonfire night

editorial image
Have your say

Whether you plan to let off a few fireworks in the back garden this weekend, or you are heading to one of the big displays, there comes a point in the evening when the stomach cries out for hot, filling food and there is a distinct need for some wine to go with it.

Soup in cups, sausages, chicken drumsticks, hot dogs and burgers are the traditional fare at most of the Guy Fawkes celebrations I have been to with an emphasis on heat, both in flavour and temperature. The same goes for the wine and if you are standing outside waiting for the fireworks to go off then a mug of mulled wine will start by warming your hands and throat and then gradually work down to your toes.

There are hundreds of recipes for mulled wine as well as convenient sachets of spices that do the whole job for you. The classic ingredients involve sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and orange peel and most recipes suggest that you throw all the ingredients into a pan with the wine and heat it up.

Sadly that is the way to boil off the alcohol, so instead make up a syrup mix in advance with your spices and sugar and just a small amount of wine, then use that to flavour each bottle of wine as the evening progresses. Big cauldrons of mulled wine always look good, but to be honest it works just as well in a jug in the microwave and keeps the flavour and alcohol in the brew, instead of wafting off into the night air.

For your base wine head to Aldi for Toro Loco Tempranillo 2011 at £3.59 a bottle. This is good enough to drink on its own, but it has enough weight to cope with all the spices of a mulled wine. And if you have a left-over bottle of port at the back of the cupboard, pour that into the blend, being careful not to include any sediment. Its robust flavours can only improve the mix.

Once the fireworks have been blasted into the air and the fun with sparkers has been safely dissipated then it is time to head back indoors for some substantial fare and a glass of decent wine.

Whatever you are planning to serve up on Bonfire Night, here are a few suggestions for wines to put in your glass, all offering plenty of flavour for money.


Both types of bangers are essential at any bonfire party and one enormous success this year has been the Yorkshire sausage created by Ilkley butcher David Lishman together with the Welcome to Yorkshire team. The special blend of spices is available to all butchers in Yorkshire and they reckon that over a million Yorkshire sausages have been sold this year. Now with a supermarket deal almost in the bag there is a chance that the Yorkshire sausage will be become just as famous as Cumberland and Lincolnshire sausages.

The unique flavours of Yorkshire sausages come from a spice mix of nutmeg, mace, coriander and parsley so choose a fairly low tannin wine to accompany them such as the ripe, smooth fruit of Fragoso Merlot 2012, Argentina, from Marks and Spencer (£6.99) or Sainsbury’s Old Vine Garnacha, Spain at a bargain £5.99 which is bursting with ripe juicy red fruits and is soft enough to accompany sausages or any meaty stew.

Spiced pumpkin soup

Rich and thick, this sweet fragrant soup needs an aromatic wine to do it justice. Try the fragrant style of Yalumba’s Y Viognier 2012 (down to £7.99 on multibuy at Majestic) or the fabulous spice-driven flavours of Domaine Paul Blanck Gewürztraminer 2011, Alsace, France (£14.99, Waitrose).

Chilli-spiced beef and bean stew

A hot, rich spicy stew can be left in the oven while you and your guests are watching the fireworks and it will warm you down to your toes when you come in. Head for the rounded, spicy fruit of Côtes du Luberon 2011 (£7.99, Marks and Spencer) or step up to a whole lot more flavour in Bootstraps Shiraz, McLaren Vale 2011 (£9.99, Sainsbury). This is chock full of concentrated spice-dusted damson fruit and will accompany almost any red meat dish.

Pork pies and mushy peas

As a born-and-bred Yorkshire woman I am surprised that I haven’t come across this combination before as Bonfire Night fare, but butcher David Lishman assures me that it is a hot favourite with his customers. Apparently the pork pies are served “just warm” and I can appreciate the way the flavours combine on the plate. While the soft fruit of Rioja Crianza 2007, Vina Eguia (down to £5.49 at Majestic on multibuy) would certainly cope with these flavours I have a feeling that a glass of Black Sheep (widely available) might be more appropriate.

Slow roasted pork and spiced apple sauce

Put a joint of pork in the oven before you head out to the bonfire and it will be tender and tasty by the time you get back. Pour a glass of Taste the Difference Barbaresco 2008 (£9.99 Sainsbury) which wowed me at the recent tasting for its delicious aromas of autumn leaves and truffles and its complex bramble fruit.


Does parkin really need a wine to go with it? I generally find that this dark, sticky, rich-flavoured cake is enough of a mouthful on its own, but a glass of Madeira such as Henriques and Henriques 10 year-old Bual (£17.99, Flourish and Prosper, Howden) balances the flavours well. You might use parkin as a base for a more elaborate dessert, with serious quality vanilla ice cream and maybe a sprinkle of chocolate on top. That’s when you should pour a small glass of Noë, 30-year-old Pedro Ximénez sherry from Gonzalez Byass over the dessert to make the ultimate treat.

If your parkin is consumed outdoors while the fireworks are still going then the best accompaniment is a mug of coffee laced with spiced rum. Latitude in Leeds has the finest selection of rums in the region. Try Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum from St Lucia at £23.50 a bottle.