Have you every really thought, in depth, about mulled wine? Usually, at this time of the year, I end up doing so.
As the nights draw in, nothing quite warms up frozen fingers more than a cosy beverage. And as this festive season unfolds, we search out hot drinks with booze that you can have to keep you warm, in a responsible manner of course!
Of course, there will be ‘cold’ drinks also. Christmas is one of the best seasons to experiment with creative cocktails and winter spiced creations, as everyone will be in the party mood. Wine would also be included under that heading.
Now, I am not ignoring festive cocktails, craft beers, or indeed the classic Irish Coffee. It’s just that in this post I want to concentrate on the one drink that embodies the holiday season in a warm glass, and for me that is mulled wine.
Where Did Mulled Wine Come From?
The word “mulled” simply means heated and spiced. Many liquids can be mulled – mead, cider, and of course wine. This wine drink is a traditional favourite in cooler locations. It also goes well with the various celebrations and weather that come around the end of each year.
Now I know that for many of you, to heat up wine may seem like sacrilege. However, the process of mulling—adding sugar, spices and fruit to a heated drink—is one of the oldest cocktail techniques in the world. In fact, I believe records of mulled wine date back to 300 B.C. and the Egyptians, who dubbed their creation the “elixir of the afterlife.”
Mentions of mulling wine have been found as far back as Hippocrates and when the Romans started to move north, they brought their penchant for mulled wine with them. Many references to this can be found in medieval English cookbooks.
Does all Mulled Wine Taste the Same?
Absolutely not. As you will see from the different recipes I provide below, and because of different tastes and cultures, rarely will two people’s concoction taste exactly alike. For instance, if we look around the world you will notice a different base for their ‘hot drink’ e.g.
Bulgaria: (Greyano Vino) Honey and peppercorn
France: (Vin Chaud) Cognac
Germany/Austria: (Glühwein) brandy or rum
Norway: (Gløgg) Aquavit, raisins and sliced almonds
Portugal/Brazil: (Vinho Quente) Port and Madeira
Spain: (Vino Caliente) Vanilla bean and Brandy de Jerez
Quebec: (Caribou) Whiskey and maple syrup
There are as many different names for mulled wine as there are recipes, but the most common ingredients include sugar, citrus (oranges, lemons and/or limes), cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, star anise and cardamom.
Examples of mulled wine recipes
Ina Garten: (http://barefootcontessa.com/)
- 1ltr apple cider
- 1 bottle of red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
- 60ml honey
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- 4 whole cloves
- 3 star anise
- 4 oranges, peeled, for garnish
Combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves and star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs, add an orange peel to each and serve.
Martha Stewart (https://www.marthastewart.com/)
- 1 large orange
- 2 cardamom pods
- 6 whole cloves
- 6 all spice berries
- 6 whole black peppercorns
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 bottle of fruity, red wine
- ½ cup of sugar
- With a fine grater, zest, then juice the orange.
- With the flat side of a knife, press firmly on the cardamom pods to bruise them. In a large pot (not aluminium), combine zest, juice, cardamom, cloves, allspice, peppercorns, cinnamon, wine, sugar, and brandy. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low; simmer until flavours have melded, about 30 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve; garnish with cinnamon stick, if desired. Serve immediately.
Green Acres: (https://greenacres.ie)
- 1 bottle of red wine (or rosé or white wine)
- 1 cup of cognac (or Armagnac)
- 2 oranges (cut into ¼ segments)
- 1 lemon (zested and juiced)
- 4-6 cloves, whole (inserted into fruit segments)
- 1 cinnamon stick (more to garnish)
- 4-6 whole black pepper corns,
- 2 star aniseed
- sprinkle of juniper berries
- ½ cup of demerara sugar (honey could be used)
Pour the wine into a saucepan, bring almost to boil (moderate heat) with the spices and sugar added. Add the chopped fruit and simmer until ready to serve. At this stage add some Cognac or Armagnac and sometimes we flavour with a little dash of Port.
Other FAQs Asked About Mulled Wine.
Can you warm it up if it has gone cold?
Pour the mulled wine into a large pre-heated saucepan on a low heat. Stir occasionally for few minutes until warm to the touch. Never allow the wine to boil. We don’t really recommend using the microwave for mulled wine as the delicate spices can be over-excited and result in burnt tasting wine.
How long does it last, if not finished?
Let the mulled wine cool at room temperature, transfer it to an airtight container, and store it in the fridge — it will keep well there for up to three days.
What are good snacks to serve with hot mulled wine?
Cheese and crackers
Cheese wedges or some toasted nuts
Baked brie on bread.
Still More Questions to be Answered
How much alcohol is left in a mulled wine, when made?
Unless you keep it boiling for a while it won’t lose much alcohol content. While pure ethanol does evaporate quickly at a relatively low temperature, the lower the alcohol content gets, the more slowly does more alcohol evaporate at that temperature. Mulled wine will typically have between eight and 13 per cent abv.
Can I use a slow cooker to make mulled wine?
Because mulled wine is such a convenient holiday party drink, it can easily be kept warm in your slow cooker while entertaining. Once you get it up to temperature, most slow cookers have a warm setting that should keep this slow cooker mulled wine recipe at just the perfect temperature for the rest of the night.
What type of wine should I use?
It can be as cheap and cheerful as you like (or as your budget can afford). If you are going to make a classic mulled wine, I would recommend something that has relatively high alcohol, lots of fruit, and relatively high tannins. Wines like a California Zinfandel, Syrah, Grenache, Malbec, or Touriga Nacional from Dão would be fine.Since mulling wine disguises a lot of the nuances of taste, don’t pick a delicate flavoured wine such as pinot noir or gamay. Go for bigger, bolder, full-bodied red wines. Click To Tweet
What type of glass should I serve it in?
Keep your punch glasses or mugs small. Mulled wine gets cold quickly in big vessels and isn’t as nice at room temperature as it is warm.
Not Classy, But Oh So Good
Mulled wine can be made and enjoyed by everybody. You can even make it without the alcohol if you wish. And as far as the specific ingredients go, you can really make it to your own taste.
If you don’t want all of the spices floating in your drink, you can sachet the spices by tying them inside of a cheesecloth, much like a large teabag.
Everyone has their own favourite mulled wine recipe, whether it’s one that’s been in your family for generations, one that you’ve read here or found online. Our recipe above is an O’Connor family favourite, but please feel free to experiment with it and let us know how you get on.
By the way, if you do make a ‘big pot’ of mulled wine it can be added to constantly, so why not leave it gently “mulling” on the stove and have lovely aromas wafting through the house all over Christmas.
No other drink says winter is finally here quite like mulled wine. Its flavours plus both the alcohol and the warm temperature of the beverage are just what you need to get through the Seasonal weather.
“In my opinion, this is the drink you should have in your hand while you cozy up to the fire at home, or pop into Green Acres for, to take a break from shopping. We will have our mulled wine available in the restaurant, from Thursday 5th Dec, onwards.”
One last thing – did you know that we have a Green Acres mobile app? Now you can bring us home in your pocket. Book tables, browse wines, learn of special offers, check events, connect with us, earn loyalty rewards and much more. We would really appreciate if you would click on either of the tabs below to download for free.
Talk to you soon, James.