When it comes to wine, there are a seemingly endless number of options of varietals and flavor profiles. They can be fruity, dry or anywhere in between, and contain notes of everything from black pepper and blackberry to peach and tobacco.
Popular red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are known for their bold, full-bodied flavors. And then you have whites like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio that typically have crisp, dry and refreshing finishes.
And then there's mulled wine, which is something that's altogether different. You're not likely to find it on store shelves because it's traditionally homemade. Around the holiday season especially, you may see this thick, spicy wine served on tables across Europe. Each country has its own version of mulled wine, which is made by mixing spices and sometimes liquors like brandy with red or white wines and serving it warm. Known for its aromatic qualities, every family has its own spin on this tasty and warming beverage.
Types of Mulled Wine
Different countries have different traditions of what they put in their mulled wine. Most use some varietal of red wine, and the key spices usually include cinnamon, cloves and something citrus. After that, additional spice variations range from ginger and peppercorns to honey and cardamom.
The Swedish have their Glogg, which mixes a fruity red wine with port and then adds some of the hard stuff, like brandy or rum. They add cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and ginger to spice it up and then top it off with some raisins and slivered almonds. For a nonalcoholic Glogg, you can substitute orange juice and grape juice for the alcohol.
Germany's Gluhwein (pronounced Glooh-vine) traditionally calls for a dry red wine, some sugar and lemon, and then cloves, vanilla pods and cinnamon sticks for the spice.
Russia's Glintwein is pretty much the same as the German recipe. Bulgaria's Greyano Vino recipe is red wine heated with honey and peppercorns, for a bit of the sweet and spicy. And Italy's vin brule calls for red wine with honey, oranges, cinnamon, nutmeg clove and juniper berries.
As you can see, the variations are vast but the result is the same. A warming drink for wintertime, best sipped in front of a roaring fire.
How to Make Mulled Wine
Making mulled wine is an easy and not-so-time consuming task that will scent your kitchen in the most wonderful way. All you really need to do is gather your ingredients and combine them in a saucepan, then put it on low and let it simmer until it's spiced to your liking, usually anywhere from 30 minutes to two (or more) hours. Just be sure not to let it ever get up to a boil.
The good news is you don't need an expensive bottle of wine because most of a fine wine's nuances would be lost in the cooking process. But while it doesn't need to be fancy, it should be drinkable. A good rule of thumb is to aim for the $7 to $10 range. Dry reds are typically used for mulling, like Zinfandel and Merlot. But if you're a white wine drinker, you can also use Riesling or Viognier. And if you do use white wine, the addition of turbinado sugar will add some complexity and sweetness to the taste.
Just keep in mind that wines that have been aged in oak don't make a very tasty finished product. Also, you should skip the aluminum pan for mulling, because it will give it a metallic bite. Stick to stainless steel or ceramic for the best result.
- Beck, Allon. "Mulled Wine." Themurmur.com, Dec. 15, 2003.http://web.med.harvard.edu/sites/murmur/html/articles/121503/121503_abeck.asp
- "Europe's Winter Beverages." Visiteurope.com. (July 3, 2011).http://www.visiteurope.com/Christmas-2010/christmasineurope/Winter-Beverages
- "How to Make Glogg." Apartmenttherapy.com. (July 3, 2011).http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/ny/how-to/how-to-make-glgg-014978
- O'Neil, Darcy. "Mulled Wine." Artofdrink.com, Dec. 4, 2010.http://www.artofdrink.com/drinks/wine/mulled-wine/
- "Recipe: Gluhwein, mulled wine for Christmas and wintertime." Justhungry.com, Dec. 14, 2009).http://www.justhungry.com/2006/12/recipe_gluhwein_mulled_wine_fo.html