|You’ve heard of mulled wine, you say, but you don’t really know what it is? You’re not alone. So we’ll take a moment on National Mulled Wine Day to give you some information to mull over, as well as recipes for mulled wine and its Scandinavian cousin, glögg (pronounced glugg—add Aquivit or vodka along with the brandy, plus almonds and raisins). For those who don’t drink alcohol (or for the kids), there’s also a recipe for mulled apple cider. The basics: Take a modest red wine and add water, brandy, spices and some sugar or honey. Simmer on the stove top (read the recipe) and serve in mugs. Glass mugs are preferable, since, as with any wine, one likes to enjoy the color of the beverage. But any mug will do. (If you’re going to buy glass mugs, we love the double-walled Bistro series from Bodum. They’re beautiful, keep the beverage hot longer and don’t require a coaster because the double wall keeps the heat and moisture raised above your tabletop.)||
A cinnamon stick for garnish is optional.
|The word “mull,” referring to sweetening, spicing and heating of wine or ale, has been traced back to 1610 or so. Wine and ale often went bad; by adding spices and honey (sugar was not widely available for another two centuries), it could be made drinkable again. Almost every European country has its version of mulled wine (even the French make vin chaud), and it is popular in South America as well—today as a comforting drink, not to cover up bad booze. The spicy-sweet aroma of the mulling wine will fill your home—it’s the beverage equivalent of baking cookies. You can buy premixed mulling spices in a specialty food store or spice shop (or even in some supermarkets); or you can measure out a little allspice, some dried orange rind (a.k.a. orange peel) and a few whole cloves into a muslin pouch or spice ball (add peppercorns if you’re into pepper, and star anise if you have it), and throw a few cinnamon sticks into the brew. Historical note: The holiday wassail bowl of yore was a mulled ale, flavored with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, topped with slices of toast (think croutons). The wassail served at today’s Medieval holiday reenactments is likely to be mulled cider, to accommodate modern palates. Find more drink recipes for entertaining in the Cocktails Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.|