Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine is a must-have on many holiday cocktail recipe lists but what is it?  A traditional mulled wine recipe is made most often with red wine, though white is sometimes used, heated with a mixture of whole warming spices and other optional ingredients like apple cider, citrus and brandy.

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Spiced wine tastes like a big, fruity red wine crossed with a spicy batch of apple cider, with a touch of spirit. 

Mulled wine is known by many names such as spiced wine, hot wine, glögg, glühwein, and vin chaud. They all essentially refer to the same drink, although the spices and liquor of choice may vary.

Depending on personal preference, individual recipes will contain varying amounts of spice, sweetness and warmth.  The best wine for mulled wine is dry and full-bodied, such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Zinfandel, or Syrah/Shiraz. These will stand up to the other flavors and ensure the spiced wine won’t be too sweet.  Since other flavours will be added, select a budget-friendly bottle. Don’t go bottom shelf, but don’t use the super good stuff either.  Those wines are best appreciated on their own.

At this time of year you will see several brands selling pre-mixed spiced wine in bottles. Don’t be tempted.  These wines tend to be overly sweet and contain artificial flavours.  They are nowhere close to being of equal quality as the homemade versions.

It doesn’t require a great investment of your time to prepare a steaming pot of mulled wine. It takes about 5 minutes to prepare and can be made either on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. It’s totally customizable with your favourite spices and liqueurs. It will make your home smell wonderful and warm everyone up on a cold winter night.

In addition to your bottle of wine, it is suggested to include the following:

  • Brandy or other liqueur such as Cointreau (or another orange liqueur) or tawny port
  • Fresh oranges; one that has been peeled and sliced to mull in the wine; and one to slice and use as a garnish
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Mulling spices, which may include one or more of whole cloves, star anise, a few cardamom pods, nutmeg and ginger
  • Sweetener such as sugar, honey, apple cider, apple juice or maple syrup.

To make it, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and give them a quick stir.  Heat until the wine almost reaches a simmer over medium-high heat but don’t let it bubble, otherwise the alcohol will begin to vaporize and the wine will begin to evaporate.  Reduce heat to low, cover completely, and let the wine simmer for at least 15 minutes or up to 3 hours.

Using a fine mesh strainer, remove and discard the mulling spices. Give the wine a taste and stir in the desired amount of extra sweetener if needed.

Serve warm in heatproof mugs topped with your favorite garnishes.

As an alternative to a saucepan, a slow cooker can be used.  The slow cooker keeps the stove top free and the spiced wine warm, and it’s easy for guests to access for refills.

Happy holidays!

Sláinte mhaith

2 thoughts on “Mulled Wine

  1. Hi Dave,
    What a great article on mulled wine and especially this time of year. Ingrid and I tried many varieties of gluwine in Germany one Xmas holiday ski trip. Most were excellent and just hit the spot after a day on the slopes. We have forgotten how good they taste and intend to try to make our own for Christmas.,


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