I have recently discovered that mulled wine is the marmite of festive fare. You either long for its warm, sweet embrace, or run to the nearest G&T gasping for refreshment. Typically made with red wine, the wine is sweetened, spiced and heated—offering a delightful alternative to traditional coffees, ciders and toddy’s at holiday gatherings or just on a cold winter's night.
Despite many questionable takes on the classic served from a tap into a polystyrene cup at events, mulling is not an excuse to serve laughably cheap wine to your unfortunate guests, and I believe there to be a real art to it. If you are lucky enough to have a wood burning stove in your home or an aga, a pot of something mulled warming away through the day not only warms the cockles after a brisk walk, but also scents the house delightfully for an evening of hygge.
Also known as glühwein, vino caliente, glögg, vin brulé, bisschopswijn, vin chaud, candola, vinho quente…or literally a hundred other names, depending on where in the world life may find you, as the name suggests there are many ways you serve and brew this tipple. Homemade mulled wine is incredibly easy to make on the stovetop (or simmer in the slow cooker), it’s easy to customise with your favorite spices and add-ins, and it is so cosy and delicious. Perfect for winter and holiday entertaining.
Delia's wine writer, Alice King, says that the great thing about mulled wine is that you can keep adding to it. If unexpected guests arrive and you've no wine left, simply add some more water and fruit! In her recipe, simply heat a couple of bottles of wine with 6 tbsp honey, an orange studded with cloves, a few slices of orange and lemon, some ground ginger and a cinnamon stick, and allow to simmer gently for 20 minutes before serving. The citrus works brilliantly with the warm spices to create a kind of winter sangria effect which never fails to please, particularly if one takes her up on the optional 2 tbsp of Grand Marnier, and then adds a few more for good measure.
How about this this Holiday Spiced Mulled Wine,where 1 bottle of good red (pinot noir, cabernet, merlot) is combined with 1/3 cup brandy, 1/4 cup honey, 1 sliced orange, 1 sliced apple, cloves, cinnamon and star anise for something cosy to curl up with?
A splash of rum gives this slow cooker concoction an extra boozy twist and is packed with fruity flavors and warm spices. The red wine, apple juice and fresh cranberries make a sweet and just slightly tart mulled wine, which may be just the ticket if you are adverse to the sweeter versions!
Despite its faintly unappetising name, the Scandinavians' take on mulled wine, glögg, somehow conjures up visions of cosy firesides and log cabins, rather than plastic beakers and sticky pub carpets. Along with a dry red, this version of the European drink is filled with rum, bourbon, AND brandy so is guarenteed to hit the spot! Alternatively, Dale deGroff, "widely acknowledged to be the world's greatest living bartender", takes his recipe from Los Angeles' Scandia club, and involves a large bottle of red, along with raisins, flaked almonds, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon and orange peel (leave it to stand for 24 hours before warming gently, adding sugar to taste) and finishing off with a generous amount of vodka!
You don’t have to purchase expensive wines and spirits for this drink – just a nice table wine you enjoy. The robust spices will overpower any subtle notes that more costly drinks contain. Something inexpensive, but not cheap is the way to go! You can make it as sweet or tart as you like, and include your favourite fruits and spices. The variety is sure to mean you can find something for you, and surely the trial and testing phase is the best bit?!
So I'd love to know, is mulled wine a guaranteed spirit raiser in your home, or by far the worst thing about Christmas? What do you put in your own festive punch – or what would you prefer to be offered instead?
About the author: Laura Cutress
Laura is the owner and director of Anchor & Dash, brand development and marketing agency. She believes that everyone deserves an online presence which makes them feel proud. Her mission statement is simple: building business through creative, authentic and inspiring digital marketing. If you would like to chat more about growing your brand, talk to her over at www.anchoranddash.com , on Facebook, or her personal favourite, Instagram.