An evening of winter cheer and bonhomie calls for a warming drink of mulled wine. At home alone, or with a group of friends, what could be more cosy than a warm glass of wine fortified with spices? Try the recipe below and serve this delicious winter classic to friends and family.
In many Old World countries mulled wine is a traditional holiday treat. These heated drinks were thought to be very healthy and probably did sustain people’s health through the cold winter months in olden days.
You don’t have to use an expensive red for mulled wine since the fruit and spices you add will alter the taste. In fact, any red wine with deep fruit flavour and reasonable structure will work well.
Heating brings out the tartness and tannins in wine, which may be enjoyable at normal temperatures but when the wine is heated they become much stronger. A certain amount of sugar or honey therefore is necessary for good mulled wine.The sugar smooths the rough edges in the wine and brings out the spice and fruit flavours.
Never let the wine boil. The flavour of the wine/spice combination will deteriorate if the mixture reaches boiling point. As the saying goes, if it’s boiled it’s spoiled. However, microwaving mulled wine by the glass or mug full is a good alternative because it concentrates the flavours and doesn’t allow them to evaporate.
Easy to make in quantity and relatively inexpensive, mulled wine is sure to please most guests. So get it ready for the long evenings ahead and see what a wonderful welcome the scent of warm spices and wine makes, as your guests walk in the door.
Bottle of red wine such as a Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel or Merlot – 1
Peeled and sliced orange (add orange peel zest, to taste) – 1
Brandy – 1 cup
Cloves – 8 to10
Honey or sugar – 2/3 cup
Cinnamon sticks – 3
Ground fresh ginger (allspice can be substituted) – 1 tsp or 2 tsp powdered
Combine all ingredients in either a large pot or a slow cooker. Gently warm the ingredients on low to medium heat without boiling, for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure that the honey or sugar has completely dissolved. When the wine is steaming and the ingredients have blended well, it is ready to serve. Strain and ladle into mugs.
This is an abridged version of an article that appeared first in print in Sommelier India December 2013 – January 2014