‘Tis the season for warm, spiced beverages. Glühwein, Gløgg, Wassail — whatever you call it, mulled wine is the perfect holiday beverage.
Mulled wine is as old as wine itself, and the practice to doctor it up with spices likely arose from necessity on several fronts. For one, wine was often safer to drink than water (read: healthier). Therefore, it was an everyday beverage of choice for any occasion or meal. Also, with limited technology, wine was not easy to preserve. The age-old trick of spicing things up to mask bad flavors and odors undoubtedly played a role in the invention and popularity of mulled wine.
The etymology of “mull” is to pulverize or reduce to powder (hence our word “meal” as in cornmeal), which makes sense in view of pulverizing hard spices like cloves and cinnamon. In the late 1600s, the meaning of the word transitioned to include the entire process of heating, sweetening and flavoring the wine.
The earliest mulled wine references are to “Ypocras,” possibly named for Hippocrates who may have either invented it or simply encouraged its consumption. In the mid-1500s, a mulled wine recipe actually appeared in a “good housekeeping” book in England.
Today, some people shy away from mulled wine, thinking that most of it is made from cheap wine you couldn’t sell by the glass au naturel. While forms of mulled wine are available pre-made, especially versions of Gløgg, I’ve personally never met a mulled wine I didn’t like.
Enjoy this mulled wine recipe, and next time, stay tuned for more history of mulled wine!
Mulled Wine Recipe
- One bottle of red wine
- One peeled and sliced orange (keep peel to add zest to taste into cooking pot)
- 1/4 cup of brandy
- 8-10 cloves
- 2/3 cup honey or sugar
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 Tb fresh or 2 tsp ground ginger (allspice can be substituted)
To make the perfect cup of mulled wine, combine all ingredients in either a large pot or a slow cooker. Gently warm the ingredients on low to medium heat (avoid 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 been well blended it is ready to serve. Ladle the mulled wine into mugs (leave seasonings behind) and enjoy! Makes 4-6 servings.