Home-made Christmas mincemeat

raisins and sugarSherry, whisky and freshly squeezed orange juice are sipped this week as I get started stirring the Christmas mincemeat. Recipes for this booze-soaked Christmas preserve always say you should let it 'mature' for at least a week before you use it. But home-made pies (individual or one large ‘un) will still taste wonderful if the minced fruit and nut mixture is spooned straight into pastry cases as soon as the alcoholic moistness testing has ceased.

But you'll find as you eat the rest of the pies over the coming week(s) that they’ll become ever mellower and smoother. The sharp tangs resulting from the high alcohol levels in the soaking liquor of choice become less obvious and finally disappear making for a more balanced snack.

You don't need an 'O' level in Home Economics to make really good Christmas mincemeat – in fact the more feeble your efforts the better the results. First cover and soak the dried fruit overnight in more than the recommended sixth of a pint of brandy, rum, sherry or whisky. I have experimented with sweet sherry (good but the sherry flavour can get lost amongst the fruit), rum (over dominates) and have now settled on whisky as the alcohol of choice. It won't overpower the currants and raisins and it also makes for a very satisfying dram before, during or after the mince making process.

To finish just stir in equal quantities of grated apple, mixed peel, suet, brown sugar and nuts and finally sprinkle on the mixed spice and the juice of a couple of lemons and oranges. Sample for moistness and then either add a bit more whisky to the mix or pour some into your glass.

Tesco Finest Barbera D'AlbaPG Wine Reviews

You may still be drinking wine with your meals despite all that sherry about, so here are a few suggestions.

SPAR South African Fruity White
Part of the new range of wines from SPAR and at a fiver you can't go wrong: flavours of pear, melon and pastry.

SPAR South African Crisp White
A nice refreshing white with flavours of pear, melon and apple with sweet bubblegum coming through.

Tesco Finest Italian Barbera D'Alba
£8 Tesco
A really sophisticated and enjoyable wine that would be selling for £15 a bottle at an upmarket wine shop – expect aromas of cherries and rose petals with flavours of plums and liquorice. A surprisingly light wine.

Pizo Spanish Carinena 2016
£9.99 Virgin Wines
A lovely fruity red with aromas and flavours of fresh cherry and raspberry with dark chocolate.

Seresin Leah New Zealand Pinot Noir 2014
£17.99 Fareham Wine Cellars, £20 Wine Society
Made with wild yeasts and biodynamic techniques this Pinot Noir isn't your usual thin and feeble version but a robust wine with lots of cherry, almonds and juniper berry going on. It'll squeeze your gums a bit but the fruity flavours wine through.

This article also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on MatureTimes.co.uk