There are few things better on a blustery cold day than a hot drink. And while hot chocolate was a great option when you were younger, you may be in search of a replacement that’s a little more ‘adult.’ Traditional Cider or a Hot Toddy are always great choices when the weather turns wintery, but recently, Mulled Wine, a classic drink in its own right, has seen a renewed spike in popularity. Mulled Wine is made by simmering wine, brandy, or cognac and adding various spices, sugars, and fruits to make a distinctly festive holiday concoction.
The tradition of drinking warm spiced wine goes back to the early days of wine itself. Created by the Romans in the 2nd Century, Mulled Wine helped keep people warm during the coldest days of winter. As their empire expanded, the Romans brought the drink with them all across Europe. During the Middle Ages, Europeans started mixing various spices into their Mulled Wine to promote good health and to ward off illness. This also gave the wine a new flavor that was sweeter and pleasing to the palate. Over time, various cultures across Europe began to use herbs, flowers, sugar, honey, and a wide range of other spices in their versions of Mulled Wine. It was in the 1890s when Mulled Wine became synonymous with Christmas and was often shown as Santa’s drink of choice.
Mulled Wine has come a long way since it’s modest Roman origins. As it has evolved, so have the types of wine, liquor, and spices that are used to make it.
The Necessary Equipment
Preparing Mulled Wine is a fairly straight-forward process. It involves combining your ingredients in a pot or slow cooker and allowing the heat to warm the wine and bring out the flavors of the spices. Below is a list of the kitchen items you’ll need to get started:
- Slow Cooker or Pot
- Measuring Cups
- Knife and Cutting Board
- Measuring Spoons
- Vegetable Peeler
Once you get started, stick around the kitchen to monitor the wine so that it doesn’t overheat.
Which Wine Should You Use?
For a traditional Mulled Wine, use a Red Wine with a high alcohol percentage and plenty of fruit flavors. Ultimately, though, you can choose whatever style of wine you like best. Just make sure the wine you pick has a sturdy flavor and that it won’t lose too much of its alcohol content as it warms up.
These are popular Mulled Wine selections:
Some drinkers like to include other liquors in their Mulled Wine to ensure there is enough alcohol and to add some additional flavor. While completely optional, including one or more of these spirits can provide a fun twist on your usual recipe:
Spice and Fruits
What you mix into a Mulled Wine is just as important as the wine you choose. Again, it’s ultimately up to you to follow the classic recipe or to do your own thing. Traditional recipes call for clove, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, honey, and orange slices. You can also experiment with flavors such as cardamom, lemon chamomile flowers, apple, pear, and ginger. Use bay leaves, sage, tea infusions, hibiscus, and bramble fruits to create new and inspired flavors.
- Combine your ingredients in a slow cooker or pot. Bring the wine to a slight simmer over medium heat while stirring occasionally. Be sure that it doesn’t overheat or boil.
- Once the wine is warm, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and allow it to simmer for an hour. Continue to stir occasionally.
- Lower the heat again and serve in mugs or heatproof glasses. Allow the fruits and spices to act as a garnish.