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What Is Mulled Wine And How Is It Made?


When winter sets in and temperatures start to drop, nothing can warm the bones quite like a good heated beverage. And, while many are familiar with holiday staples like cider, apple pie or Tom and Jerrys, mulled wine often gets overlooked.

If you haven’t already surmised from the steaming picture at the top of this post, mulled wine is a heated and spiced wine traditionally served during the holiday season. It is spiced in much the same way as other winter or holiday drinks, often utilizing sticks of cinnamon, cloves and citrus fruits along with other spices and sweeteners.  A completed and perfectly flavored mulled wine should illicit the cozy feeling of the season.

The idea of heating wine certainly isn’t a new one.  Mulled wine has been a tradition for thousands of years. Recipes for warmed wines moved north through Europe with the Roman legions in ancient times. As time passed, countries and regions throughout Europe developed their own special take on the festive drink. Here are just a few:

In Germany, the drink is called glühwein or “glow wine” after the hot irons used for mulling in the past. The heated red wine is traditionally flavored with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star aniseed, citrus, sugar and even vanilla pods. Sometimes the drink is served “mit Schuss” – with a shot of liquor such as rum.

In Sweden, heated wine is called glögg and is quite popular. While utilizing spices and flavorings very similar to other variations, the drink is often accompanied by blanched almonds, raisins and ginger biscuits.

Bulgaria uses very different flavorings in its variation of heated wine, or greyano vino. Instead of seasonings like cinnamon or cloves, honey and peppercorn are added. Apples and citrus fruits may also be part of the Bulgarian version.

The Italian version of the drink is most popular in northern Italy and is called vin brulé or “burnt wine.” Like the German incarnation, a shot of brandy or sherry may be added for an additional kick.

As you can see, there are many variations of mulled wine recipes. Still, the first step to a delicious mulled wine is a good batch of your own regular wine. Most mulled wine recipes utilize reds (zinfandels and merlots work best).  However, whites (rieslings or viogniers) can also be used. Here is one simple recipe for the holiday treat:

Mulled Wine Recipe

1. Pour a standard bottle of wine (750 mL) into a stovetop pan or pot and leave it on low heat.

2. Take orange peel from half an orange or lemon peel from half a lemon if you prefer, and gently press the pieces to release their scent.

3. Combine the orange/lemon peel with 5-10 cloves, 1-3 cinnamon sticks, and 2/3 cup of sugar and mix it into the heated wine along with a little juice from your chosen fruit.

4. Keep mixing the wine until it starts to steam, signaling that it is ready for enjoyment with family and friends.

 The holiday season is all about staying warm inside while the frigid winter rages outside. Mulled wine can be the perfect remedy for a cold day of shoveling and the best way to warm up by the fire as night sets in.

Now that you have the recipe, share it with those closest to you.  Be sure to use your own wine to add a personal touch to the holiday beverage. We can help you in that department. Check out our selection of complete wine making kits (equipment included) or our wine making ingredient kits using the navigation above.