Recipe: Diabetic-Friendly Mulled Wine

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Mulled wine is one of the simplest yet yummiest indulgences of the festive season. It gives the perfect mix of warmth, spice and nostalgia to get you in the mood for autumn and winter evenings.

Spanish wines are my favourites; they’re robust, rich and fruity. This also makes them ideal for mulling. Inspired by the flavours of Spain, this mulled wine recipe for diabetics is delicious, without the high sugar content.



1 bottle of red wine
6 tbsp granulated Splenda
2 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
4 cloves
2 oranges, sliced
125ml water
1 vanilla pod


  • Pour your wine into a deep, heavy pan and add the cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise.
  • Let it simmer over a medium heat for a few minutes before adding the vanilla pod and sliced orange to the mix.
  • Stir occasionally to ensure that the fruit is moving about and getting lots of colour from the wine as it mulls.
  • Add the water and turn up the heat slightly for a couple of minutes, then turn it down again, making sure the wine doesn’t boil.
  • Finally, add the Splenda and mix it in until fully absorbed.
  • Leave on a low heat and serve in small glasses using a ladle. Add some decorative garnish if you wish.

Find out more about Splenda’s range of sugar alternatives here. See Waitrose Cellar’s page about mulled wine here.

Looking for more delicious recipes for diabetics? Check out the excellent The Guilt-free Gourmet: Indulgent recipes without sugar, wheat or dairy on Amazon.

Portugal: Porto and the Douro Travel Guide

I love a good foodie trip, and I’m prepared to travel far and wide in search of delicious meals and the perfect bottle of wine to accompany them. When I visited Portugal for the first time recently, I learned that incredible food and drink is a lot closer than we think – in fact, it’s just a quick hop over from London Gatwick airport. Prepare yourselves for a serious treat: Porto and its neighbouring wine country the Douro Valley are contenders for this year’s hottest destinations for foodie travellers.


Porto’s historic city centre has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and for good reason. Undoubtedly, one of the best things you can get up to during a stay in Porto is simply to wander and wonder; to engage in the well-established art of flânerie – to walk around idly and aimlessly. Here are some things to look out for on your strolls around the city.


Porto Cathedral: One of the oldest city monuments, the cathedral dates back to the 13th century. It Romanesque architecture features two towers, and the Gothic cloisters inside are well worth a look too. Its courtyard provides a great viewing point for taking in the scenery and snapping some photographs of the city.

Comer e chorar por mais: I love visiting little old-style traditional shops, especially for food. In a country with such a rich gastronomical culture like Portugal, there are plenty of these around, but one of the best is the 98-year-old Comer e chorar por mais on Rua Formosa.

Sandeman: Established in 1790, Sandeman is one of Portugal’s most recognised producers of Port wine. Its emblem, the Don, is a silhouette of a man wearing a Portuguese student’s cape and wide-brimmed hat, and you’ll see it everywhere in Porto. Drop into their cellars for a tour and a tasting, as well as a chance to see how the company’s artwork has developed throughout its long history.


The Douro Valley is just a couple of hours’ train ride from Porto, and the scenery you’ll encounter during a train journey there is absolutely stunning. The Douro region itself, as well as Porto, has also been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and just a few hours spent here will make you realise why: incredible scenery, rich culture and heritage and excellent produce define it.


The Douro Museum: If you’re interested in the history of wine, the Douro Museumis a must-visit destination while you’re in the Douro Valley. The modern museum, which is located in the restored and adapted former Casa da Companhia Velha, offers fascinating insight into the wine culture and heritage of the region. There’s also an on-site restaurant, tasting ares and meeting rooms at this cultural centre.

Quinta da Tourais: This family-run micro-winery has been in the Coelho family for three generations, and is a brilliant place to stop for a wine tasting and a tour of the cellars. The Quinta da Tourais estate grows around 30 different varieties of white and red grape, and most of their wines are made from vines older than 60 years. Sit back and relax in their courtyard area while you indulge in sampling some of their delicious wines.



DOP Restaurant

Armed with the slogan “food with memory”, DOP Restaurant is the brainchild of Rui Paula, one of Portugal’s most celebrated chefs. The restaurant itself is housed in the Palace of Arts building and decorated in appealing minimalistic style. Flavoursome and beautiful, its food showcases exactly what Portugal has to offer in terms of modern gourmet cuisine. Whether it’s a simple salad, a complex cut of meat or a dazzling dessert, everything is prepared and presented to absolute perfection. It’s a gastronomical dream.

Restaurante D.Tonho

This gorgeous little riverside restaurant is the ideal spot to kick back and catch some rays while you enjoy a delicious light lunch. Restaurante D.Tonho offers up hot and cold Portuguese platters and local wines, in a laid-back atmosphere and a location with an absolutely spectacular view. There’s a fuller menu available too if you’re really hungry. We visited the restaurant on the Vila Nova de Gaia side because it’s quieter and less touristy, but there’s a sister site with the same name just across the river on the Ribeira (Porto) side if you find yourself in the area.


On a wine and food holiday, the hotels you choose are important elements of the trip. After enjoying a delicious meal, all you want to do is wander back to your room and relax with a glass of wine – not having to worry about a thing and enjoying time spent in your lodging as much as time spent outside of it. The following hotels provide just that: relaxation and luxury – while also retaining a unique Portuguese and wine country character.

The Yeatman

For most of my visit, I stayed in The Yeatman, a flawless 5-star luxury wine hotel situated just across the river from the centre of Porto in neighbouring Vila Nova de Gaia. The Yeatman is a holiday destination in itself with breathtaking views, a full-service spa and relaxation centre, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a Michelin-star restaurant and extensive wine cellars (tasting sessions are available for guests). The fantastic on-site gift shop sells all the regional produce you could possibly desire, including wine from the Douro Valley and other Portuguese wine regions.

It’s the ultimate convenience to be able to dine well at the hotel you’re staying in, andThe Yeatman is a brilliant choice for foodies looking to sample delicious, creative fare and wine before wandering back to their room for bed. The gastronomic restaurant on-site is the only eatery in Porto to carry a Michelin star, and every dish offered is expertly paired with the perfect wine to accompany.


Quinta da Pacheca

When I ventured out into the Douro Valley, I stayed at 4-star valley wine lodgingQuinta da Pacheca, a boutique hotel set on 51 hectares. Falling somewhere between a concept hotel and a traditional old quinta (the Portuguese equivalent of a French chateaux), it offers a quaint feel with a taste of the luxury. The rooms, decorated with lovely old-world charm, are equipped with flat-screen TVs, sofas and enormous beds. Quinta da Pacheca also has a fantastic on-site restaurant serving a range of incredible Portuguese food made from local produce – with excellent wines on the side, of course.


My trip to Porto was arranged through Grape Escapes, a UK-based company that specialises in European food and wine tours. A three night Porto wine tour with an itinerary covering the above costs around £364 per person.

I flew with easyJet directly from London Gatwick to Porto. easyJet flies from London Gatwick to Porto up to six times a day with prices starting at £30.99 per person one way (excluding baggage but including all taxes).

All photos belong to the author and are used here with permission.

Choosing the Right Wine for Your Meal

Image: Jing via Flickr
Image: Jing via Flickr

Selecting the right wine to sip and enjoy is a difficult decision to make, and pairing a wine with a meal can be even harder. There are plenty of hard and fast rules that people follow—white wine with fish, red wine with red meat. While these do some times make good sense, for the most part your selection comes down to a mix between selecting a good combination of flavours and personal preferences. After all, the most important thing at the end of the day is not whether you’ve followed the rules, but whether you and your guests have enjoyed your meals. So, without further hesitation, here are a few tips on pairing food and wine for your next big dinner party.

1. Don’t Forget the Champagne

If you’re hosting a dinner party then it is something to celebrate, so why not break out a bottle of bubbly? Champagne is the perfect type of wine to accompany anything that has a predominantly salty flavour—such as its traditional pairing with oysters—as both brut Champagne and cava have a touch of sweetness to them.

2. Light Sea Food and Chablis

Any seafood that has a lighter aroma to it will taste best when it is paired with a delicate white wine. This means the the wine won’t overpower the seafood. If you’re considering serving shrimp cocktail with your meal, try pairing it with a Chablis or Pinot Grigio.

3. A Glass of Sauvignon Blanc

If you’re looking to serve something with a little more pizzazz than shrimp cocktail, like ceviche for example, then a bolder white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc won’t be overwhelmed by the taste of the dish.

4. Dry Whites and Spice

For those who like a little bit of spice in their dishes and are thinking of serving something both spicy and aromatic—think Thai, Indian etc.—then a sweet but dry white wine like a Riesling makes for a pairing that will bring out the most flavour.

5. Pizza and Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is one of the world’s favourite wines, and its light bodied but deep berry and earth flavours make for a wonderful match for foods with a wholesome rustic taste, such as pizza, or mushroom and truffle dishes.

6. Malbec and the Asado

Argentina is one of the world’s great Malbec producers, and the bold taste of these wines match up perfectly with the sweet, tangy, and savoury flavours that come from the dishes cooked on the traditional Argentine barbecue, the asado. So if it’s barbecue you’re planning, consider a nice bottle of Malbec.

Remember, while picking the wine for your meal might seem intimidating, it all comes down to what you’ll enjoy most, whether it’s a bottle of Black Tower Wine from Germany, or Jacobs Creek from Australia.