As a non-British person, I must confess that the whole idea of mulled wine was alien to me, to put it softly. Before I tried it the only thing I could think of is why the hell would you ruin a perfectly good wine by warming it? Wine is meant to drink cold, the warmth just dilutes the flavour, and don’t let me get started on the mulled spices, now there’s a way to completely destroy the wine if I ever saw one. Spices are for dishes, not drinks.
However, in a trip to the United Kingdom, I finally got the chance to try it. I like to think that I’m mature enough to acknowledge when I’m wrong and mulled wine wasn’t the train wreck I expected it to be. Like so many dishes and drinks, the critical factor is how it’s prepared and the one I got the chance to try left an excellent impression on me.
It’s unique mix of alcohol, spices, and warmth is perfectly designed to heat your body. The alcohol elevates your blood pressure, the spices shock you out of numbness, and the warm wine feels like a hot shower. Now I can see myself having a nice cup of mulled wine on a cold winters night.
With that in mind, I want to help you all to enjoy this drink with the recipe. The most common preparation includes red wine and mulled spices, but from there the sky is the limit. There’s not a universal recipe for mulled wine, it varies depending on personal taste and country. For example, in the German-speaking countries you have Glühwein, which is prepared with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star aniseed, citrus, sugar and at times vanilla pods; and Glögg in the Nordic countries, which is made with sugar, spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and bitter orange.
With that said, I will proceed to describe the recipe people most usually use, it’s quite simple, and from there you can personalize it however you want. It’s possible to lower the alcohol content so children can also drink it.
- 750ml bottle red wine
- 1 large cinnamon stick, or 2 small ones
- 2 star anise
- 4 cloves
- 2 strips lemon
- zest, pared using a vegetable peeler
- 4 tbsp caster sugar
- 100ml sloe gin
- Put the red wine, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, lemon zest and sugar in a large pan. Cook on a low heat for 10 mins.
- Remove from the heat and cool, leaving to infuse for about 30 mins. To serve, heat without boiling, stir in the sloe gin (if using) and pour into mugs or heatproof glasses.
It all depends on what kind of flavour you’re looking for. Spices help regulate the sweetness and spiciness, for a sweeter taste goes with vanilla for spicy go with ginger. If you want something with more punch I recommend using rum, but be careful, it’s too easy to destroy the whole recipe with a strong spirit. I also found out that a bit of honey improves the taste and texture of the drink. As you can see, there’s a lot of ways you can alter the basic recipe, but I’m afraid I can only show you what I’ve tried. I welcome you to experiment and find the right recipe for you. Now go and enjoy one on me this Christmas.