Mulled wine, a traditional winter drink in northern Europe, is hearty red wine that’s warmed, sweetened and spiced.
It’s a popular holiday drink. The word mulled means heated, sweetened and spiced. The expression “cup of good cheer” that comes to us from Merrie Olde England refers to hot mulled cider and wine.
Glögg is the Swedish form of mulled wine, Glühwein is the German variation, vin fieri (“boiled wine”) is Romanian, and so forth. Hot buttered rum (also called rum toddy), the Colonial favorite, uses similar spices and brown sugar (both rum and sugar came from the Caribbean).
Different countries use different spices (cloves and black pepper versus cinnamon and star anise, e.g.) and sweeteners (sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses). But the end result is the same: fragrant, warm, sweet and comforting.
While delicious and festive, recipes originated not as party fare but as a way to save wine that had turned (throw in enough sugar and spice and anything tastes good). Ale was/is also mulled.
You can buy pouches of pre-mixed mulling spices, but it’s just as easy to pull out the cinnamon sticks, measure out a little allspice, mix in some dried orange peel and drop in a few whole cloves.
You can cook up the ingredients and keep them in the fridge, reheating when friends and family stop by.
Check out our article on mulled wine, cider and glogg and enjoy a cup of good cheer.
Tomorrow: how to make a wassail bowl.
HOT MULLED WINE RECIPE
There are as many mulled wine recipes as there are people who make them. This recipe, from Estancia Winery, mixes Estancia’s Pinot Noir with apple cider.
Hot buttered rum at left, flanked by a Scotch toddy (substitute Scotch for the rum). Photo courtesy National Honey Board.
1. PEEL long strips of rind from the orange, lemon and lime and place in a saucepan along with the sugar/honey and the juice of the orange.
2. ADD the cloves, cinnamon sticks, 3 gratings of nutmeg, zest of orange, bay leaves and sliced vanilla pod.
3. POUR enough wine and cider to cover the sugar and place over medium heat. Stir frequently until the mixture boils and thickens slightly (roughly 5 minutes).
4. POUR in the rest of the wine and cider and turn the heat down to low.
5. ADD the star anise and leave the mixture to heat through for about 10 minutes without boiling. Make sure to leave the spices and zest in the pan.
6. LADLE into glasses or mugs and garnish with slices of orange, nutmeg or cinnamon sticks and enjoy!
Some American food holidays are on dates that make no sense: