Cold weather means warm drinks. What’s better than coming in from outside and wrapping your hands around a cup of something aromatic, ready to warm you up inside? Hello, mulled wine!
Warm, spicy mulled wine makes an annual appearance in many countries. It’s a staple at German Christmas Markets; look for happy shoppers lined up to buy Glühwein; it means “glow wine.” Nordic countries make a powerful variation of their own, called Glögg. The English have a straightforward name: mulled wine. (Even chef Jamie Oliver calls it that.)
If a country has cold weather, it has a version of mulled wine: Latvia, karstvīns; Northern Italy, vin brulé; Spain, vino caliente; Croatia, kuhano vino; France, vin chaud; Portugal, vinho quente; Turkey, Sıcak Şarap...you get the idea. The hearty people of Québec love a potent mulled wine called Caribou. Drink it at your own peril.
I sipped Czech Svařák when I strolled Prague in October…no holiday celebration. I like that idea–why restrict a wonderful drink to just a few weeks?
Mulled Wine Recipe: Call it whatever you like!
This recipe is a guide; like many foods and beverages, it varies with the cook, and often never turns out the same way twice. Here are the basics–adjust it to your own taste and access to ingredients.
- 1 bottle red wine (Do NOT use expensive wine!)
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 5-10 cloves
- 2 Tablespoons white or brown sugar
- 1 lemon
- 1 orange
- 2 ounces rum or brandy or Grand Marnier or Port or…
- 3 cardamom pods (optional, but good)
- 1-2 star anise (optional, but good)
- ½-¾ teaspoon nutmeg (optional–not for me, but you may like it)
- Place the cinnamon sticks and cloves into a bowl and set aside. If adding other spices, such as cardamom, nutmeg or star anise–each has a unique flavor, so experiment–include them in the bowl.
- Grate or zest the peels of one-half each of the orange and lemon. Add to spices.
- Pour wine into a medium pan and set on low heat. OR use a slow cooker. Add the spices and stir regularly.
- Slice the lemon and orange, but do not add yet. Continue to stir the wine now and again.
- After about 20 minutes, add the sliced fruit and sugar. Stir for an additional 5 minutes.
- For an extra kick of alcohol, add the rum or brandy or Grand Marnier. Heat through, stirring.
- Serve and enjoy!
Let me repeat: this is a basic recipe. You can add a vanilla bean, honey, ginger, vodka, cider, cranberries…all the flavors seem to be compatible, so choose what you like. Should you be in the unlikely situation of having leftover mulled wine, you can reheat it–but don’t boil.
More recipes for cool weather: