When it’s cold outside nothing comforts like a warm drink. We tend to reach for coffee or tea, but what if we want something more festive… more seasonal… more sophisticated? When entertaining guests over the holidays, and during the cold, dark days of winter, wouldn’t it be nice to offer something a bit different and unexpected? Something that will warm cold hands? Something that soothes and yet tastes divine? When was the last time you made or served your guests Mulled Wine?
Mulled wine is, in my opinion, the cool weather equivalent of sangria. Tracing its origins to the early days of Egypt, then to Greece, where the drink was named Hypocrace after the great Greek doctor, Hippocrates. (So it must have medicinal properties!) While popular through all of Europe (Glogg, Gluhwein) Mulled Wine does seem be a quintessentially British winter beverage and enjoys a level of sophistication over other warm beverages.
I was 13 when I had my first mulled wine. We had gone to visit my grandparents at their new home in (Great Haseley) Oxfordshire. They were having what would be the first of many holiday parties. I remember it being a particularly brisk December and despite my own British roots, I couldn’t shake the cold from my bones. The Brits, are known for keeping their homes quite cool - at least by American standards - and my Grandparents, in their large, drafty manor house, were no exception. Everything changed when I was handed I warm glass cup of deliciousness. Slightly citrusy, slightly sweet, this delicious beverage, warmed every inch of my being. I sipped it gingerly, slowly, not wanting to finish it, to savor the flavors and the warmth. Mulled wine still has a lasting effect on me, nearly 40 years later.
If you plan on entertaining over the holidays, you might want to consider making a large potful. Not only is it delicious, but it’s super easy to make and your home will smell magnificent! While recipes vary - some call for brandy, others for orange juice - they all call for orange zest, mulling spices and a bit of sugar.
I have a couple of recipes for you below.
Mulled Wine, from Williams-Sonoma
12 whole cloves
2 nutmegs, cracked into pieces with a hammer
2 bottles (each 750ml) dry red wine
1/2 cup sugar
Stripped zest from 2 oranges and 2 lemons, plus more zest for garnish
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
Tie the cloves and nutmeg pieces in a small square of cheesecloth, or put them in a large metal tea ball.
In a large non aluminum pot, combine the wine, sugar, orange and lemon zests, orange and lemon juices, and cinnamon sticks. Add the clove-and-nutmeg bundle. Heat over medium-low heat until steam begins to rise from the pot and the mixture is hot, about 10 minutes; do not let it boil. Remove the clove-and-nutmeg bundle. Keep the wine warm over very low heat until ready to serve.
Ladle the wine into cups or heatproof glasses, garnish with the citrus zest and serve warm. Serves 8 to 10.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Christmas Entertaining, by Georgeanne Brennan (Simon & Schuster, 2005).
Mulled Wine, Recipe from Martha Stewart
1 large orange
2 cardamom pods
6 whole clove
6 allspice berries
6 whole black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick, plus 4 for garnish (optional)
1 bottle (3 cups) fruity red wine
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brandy
With a fine grater, zest, then juice the orange.
With the flat side of a knife, press firmly on the cardamom pods to bruise them. In a large pot (not aluminum), combine zest, juice, cardamom, cloves, allspice, peppercorns, cinnamon, wine, sugar, and brandy. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves, 1 to 2 minutes.
Reduce heat to low; simmer until flavors have melded, about 30 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve; garnish with cinnamon stick, if desired. Serve immediately.
Mulled Wine, Recipe from Ina Garten
4 cups apple cider
1 (750-ml) bottle red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1/4 cup honey
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, zested and juiced
4 whole cloves
3 star anise
4 oranges, peeled, for garnish
Combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves and star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs, add an orange peel to each and serve.
2007, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved