Mulled Wine – a Winter Warmer
With winter on its way those cold lagers and chilled white wines can seem less appealing than they did on hot afternoons around the barbeque. A heavy red is a good alternative on a chilly evening, but for a really warming beverage you can’t beat a good mulled wine.
A Spicy Festive Drink
Traditionally drunk at Christmas in the northern hemisphere, mulled wine has been a favourite winter tipple for thousands of years. A zesty combination of wine, spices, fruit and sugar, the drink was believed to be a healthy tonic and a guard against winter ills.
A Budget Treat – Mulled Wine for All
The great beauty of mulled wine is that it doesn’t require expensive ingredients. The drink is not restricted to those who can afford a $90 bottle of St Henri. In fact, mulled wine actually works better with cheap, rougher red wine that has a high tannin level. Merlot or Shiraz are good choices.
If you’re still tempted to splash out on a pricier wine to mull, bear in mind that the spices and fruit in mulled wine will almost certainly overwhelm its finer notes and subtleties and those extra dollars could well be wasted. A good, lower-end red in the $15 range will be more than adequate.
It is possible to make mulled win with white wine, but you’ll find it lacks the body and warmth of red mulled wine.
Making Mulled Wine – a Matter of Taste
While there is a generally accepted basic recipe for mulled wine, the exact combination and choice of ingredients, particularly when it comes to the spices, is a matter of personal preference and is often the result of experimentation. If you’re new to mulled wine the recipe below will give you a great place to start.
- 1.5 litres of red wine
- 4 small oranges
- 1 lemon
- 12 cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks (each about as long as your finger)
- A 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut in two.
- 6 tablespoons of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 50 grams of raisins
- Grate the zest from one of the oranges, then juice it.
- Stick 6 cloves each into 2 of the other oranges.
- Quarter the final orange.
- Quarter the lemon.
- Place all the above into a large stainless steel, glass or ceramic saucepan. Don’t use an aluminium pan as the wine will react with the metal to produce an unpleasant taste.
- Add the wine, honey, sugar, cinnamon sticks, ginger and raisins.
- Place the pan over a low heat.
- Heat the mixture to just below simmering for 20 mins. Note: don’t let the wine boil as this will remove the alcohol from the drink and can cause the spices to become bitter.
- Remove from the heat and let cool a little.
- Use a large spoon to place the oranges and lemon in the bottom of a punch bowl (any large glass serving bowl will do).
- Pour the wine onto the fruit through a sieve to remove the raisins and cinnamon sticks.
- Ladle the wine into mugs or heatproof glasses and serve.
Mulled Wine – Variations
Once you’ve got a feel for mulled wine you can get more adventurous with your spices. Try adding nutmeg, anise, or fennel. Always use whole spices, though. Using ground or powdered alternatives will make your mulled wine gritty and bitter.
For a mulled wine with more punch, add a cup of brandy.
The Perfect Winter Drink
Easy and cheap to make, mulled wine is a great way to get the conversation flowing with friends and neighbours on frosty winter nights. The marvelous combination of wine and spices warms both the body and the soul – a few sips and you might even agree with the ancients about it’s therapeutic properties!
To learn more about making mulled wine check out this video.