A few weeks ago, I made a fantastic mulled wine, using a very nice Red Meritage (aka a Bordeaux blend) for the occasion. When I talked to my sister a few days later, she said that I wasted money using a good bottle, that the mulled wine would have been just as good if I had used a cheap bottle. So I decided to put this to the test and ask the question, “Does quality wine make mulled wine better?”
I made the same recipe (see below) and split it in half. In one pot, I used the nice Red Meritage I used the first time. In the other pot, I used wonderful Three Buck Chuck. I brought six friends over and had them taste both wines without knowing which was which.
I thought I took a beautiful video of the tasting. But low and behold, when I looked at my phone this morning, there was nothing there. Bummer. It was really good, because each person gave their off-the-cuff feedback.
I’ll do my best to summarize what I heard on the video here. Five of us liked the quality mulled wine better than the Three-Buck-Chuck mulled wine, but not by much. We thought the quality mulled wine tasted richer, but we were quite happy with the Three-Buck-Chuck version too. The sixth person liked the Three Buck Chuck wine better. She said that when she drinks mulled wine, she looks for the fruity, spicy experience, which she tasted more with Three Buck Chuck. We concluded that using a wine that is not as pronounced allows these other flavors to really stand out.
Does quality wine make mulled wine taste better? Yes, if you’re looking for a serious experience. No, if you’re looking for a fruity, spicy experience. Will I continue to use expensive wine to make my mulled wine? Probably, but I won’t be as religious about it. The quality wine I used was $35. I’m sure that a $20 wine would have worked equally well.
The Mulled Wine Recipe from WineShop At Home
- Bottle of red wine
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 2 cups orange juice
- 2 cups apple cider
- Orange zest
- ¼ cup brandy
- 8-10 cloves
- 2/3 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 2 star anise
- Orange slices for garnish
Simmer all ingredients for 25 minutes. Ladle and serve with orange slices.
Please share your mulled wine experiences with us here. Thanks.
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