Whether you are looking to unwind with a warming, comforting drink or need a winter drink to serve guests at a party, this simple recipe can be prepared in under 30 minutes, and with the right spices, can be astonishingly delicious.
Origins of Mulled Wine
The earliest mulled wine recipes can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, and like so many other things, were subsequently passed onto the Ancient Romans. Both used mulled wine as a practical means of preventing waste by adding spices to less desirable wine vintages. Mulled wine remained popular in Europe during the Middle Ages with the earliest recorded recipes dating back to the 12th Century. This beverage spread even more in the 13th century, and was said to be a favourite of King Henry III of England and King Gustav I of Sweden. However, most associations of mulled wine today come from Victorian, England. In fact, Charles Dickens even wrote about a version of mulled wine in “A Christmas Carol” - which arguably firmly solidified mulled wine’s association with the winter holidays.
Selecting The Wine
From ancient times to now, one rule remains constant: start by selecting an inexpensive wine. After all, mulled wines were always produced as a means of making leftover wines drinkable. Traditional mulled wine recipes call for using an inexpensive, dry, red wine.
Sweetening the Base
You can use a variety of sweeteners but the best are sweeteners with a raw natural taste such as maple syrup, brown sugar, granulated sugar, agave, or honey. Apart from actual sweeteners, you can lighten things up with fruit. Oranges are the standard fruit used as a garnish but other citrusy fruits like cranberries, blackberries, lemon or lime work as well.
Mixing in The Spices
A key to nailing a classic mulled wine is to use high quality, freshly ground spices and toasting them just prior to grinding. While there are a plethora of recipes and spice combinations out there, the most commonly used spices for traditional mulled wine are whole cloves, ceylon cinnamon, and allspice.
PreparationJust mix the ingredients in a saucepan and let simmer for 10-15 minutes and voila! Take care not to use too much spice and do not drink or eat the spices. Instead, leave them behind in the pot (they can be used for 2-3 more rounds of wine).