As the days grow ever colder, we tend to look for hot drinks to warm us up from the inside out. If you’re not in the mood for hot chocolate, if warm tea doesn’t excite your taste buds, and if you just can’t handle another latte, perhaps it’s time to turn to a time-tested, ancient favorite; mulled wine.
Some say hot or “mulled” wine originated in the second century with the Romans, who used it to defend against their cold winters. As Roman armies conquered most of the known world over the next century, other European regions discovered – and adopted – mulled wine for themselves. Others say this enduring winter wine concoction originated with the ancient Greeks, who added spices to the least palatable of their wines and heated it up rather than toss it. Whomever is responsible, we would like to thank them!
The consumption of mulled wine grew during the Middle Ages, when pure drinking water was hard to find in most cities. The first use of the word “mull” as a verb (meaning to heat, sweeten and flavor wine or cider with spices), according to Merriam-Webster, was in 1618, although several recipes date back much further.
Most of us have heard of hot or mulled wine, even if we’ve never tried it. Although it is a beverage of European origins, people all over the world enjoy this heart-warming drink, most often partaken of during the fall and winter holiday seasons, starting with Halloween.
Mulled wine (also known as “glogg”) became associated with Christmas in the 1890’s. It is usually made with red wine and various mulling spices (hence the name “mulled wine”). Sometimes raisins are included in the mix. Countries all over the world have modified the recipe for mulled wine, with variations including different red and white wines, sangria, port, even vermouth. It is served hot or warm and may be alcoholic or non-alcoholic. If you choose the alcoholic version, the alcoholic content is normally between 8 and 13 percent.
If you’re looking for something warm to sip as you curl up on the couch in front of a roaring fire, mulled wine just may be the perfect solution. Try this simple recipe the next time you are in the mood for a tasty, belly-warming holiday drink. There are many variations on this recipe, but the main ingredients are consistent; cinnamon, cloves, and some form of citrus (usually oranges). The key is to use what makes you happy!
2 bottles inexpensive red table wine (not too sweet)
2 oranges (or 1 orange and ¼ cup orange juice)
½ cup sugar (white or brown)
¼ cup water
8 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks (or 1 teaspoon of cinnamon)
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon grated ginger
Cut orange into 5-6 segments and stud them with the cloves. Juice the other orange. Place all the ingredients in a medium to large saucepan and heat over low/gentle heat for 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally to allow spices to infuse the wine. Do NOT allow the wine to boil. Remove the orange and cinnamon sticks, and add the orange juice, mixing well. Strain if desired, serve, and enjoy by the fire. (Makes approx. 6 glasses).
Variations: Use honey instead of syrup. Vary the spices to include cardamom, lemon zest, or allspice to taste. Add a couple of shots of cognac or brandy at the end for more of a kick.
As always the gift of wine is always appreciated! Dress of the bottle with a luxury wine bag or festive bottle topper.