Christmas in a Glass
3 Facts about Mulled Wine + 1 Great Way to Make It
The very first use of the world “mull” (meaning “to heat, sweeten, and flavor with spices”) was dated by Merriam-Webster back to 1618, but the concept excited centuries before that.
It is said that in ancient times Greeks started mixing their old wine with spices and heating it up to prevent waste. The Romans adopted their ways and spread mulled wine across Europe. It turned out to also be a great way to ward off the cold during harsh winters.
Back then it was common to boil one part wine and one part honey together and adding pepper, bay leaf, saffron and dates – a recipe we’ve long evolved from.
- Grains of Paradise
One medieval recipe for mulled wine lists grains of paradise (“spykenard de Spayn“) as one of the core ingredients. A more common herb that can be used as a substitute is rosemary.
- A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens wrote about a version of mulled wine called Smoking Bishop in his beloved 1843 novel. It was right about then than mulled wine started being largely associated with the holiday season.
The ONE recipe
There are thousands of ways to make mulled wine – practically every European nation has put its own twist on it. In Germany and Austria mulled wine goes by Glühwein, in Scandinavia they call it glögg, in Bulgaria – greyano vino (heated wine). Europeans have spread it as far as Brazil (vinho quenteand) and Chile (candola or vino navega’o). Still there has to be one single recipe that unites all the best parts from all the different version, right? Well, I think I have it.
It should take you about 20 minutes and serve 12.
2 bottles of fruity red wine
1 orange (peeled and juiced)
1 lemon (peel only)
150g caster sugar
5 cardamom pods, cracked
1 cinnamon stick
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Step 1: Mix the sugar and spices along with your peeled and juiced orange and lemon peel in a large saucepan. Add enough wine to just cover the sugar, and heat over medium-low heat until dissolved, stirring occasionally. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 – 8 minutes until you have a thick syrup.
Step 2: All that’s left to do is reduce the heat, add the wine, and slowly reheat (not to a boil) and serve!
(If you’re making your mulled wine in advance you can just allow the syrup to cool, sterilize it and have it ready for step 2 anytime.)