Friday, December 20, 2013

Mulled Wine

Mulled wine is a traditional European beverage served hot or warm during winter, especially around Christmas time.  As the weather cools down in the northern hemisphere, it is particularly enjoyable now.

I grew up with this drink and therefore associate it with the holidays. In fact, there is no other time of year in which I even want it. It just says Christmas. I always thought it gives you a warm glow from the inside out, which is so appropriate for the holidays. So it’s not surprising that in German, mulled wine is called Glühwein ("glow-wine," either from the hot irons once used for mulling, or from how it makes you feel)!

Glühwein is popular in all the German-speaking countries and in the French region of Alsace. At this time of year, the Weihnachtsmarkt, or Christmas market, is open and often one enjoys a steaming hot mug of it as one visits the food and craft booths of the market.

The drink is usually prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star aniseed, citrus, sugar and at times vanilla pods. It is sometimes drunk mit Schuss (with a shot), which means that rum or some other liquor has been added.

Another popular variant of Glühwein is the Feuerzangenbowle. It shares the same recipe, however here a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and allowed to drip into the wine.

In England, mulled wine is typically sweeter than in other European countries.

In France, vin chaud ("hot wine") typically consists of cheap red wine mixed with sugar, cinnamon, and lemon. They don’t like theirs too sweet.

In the south and southeast of Brazil, where a large amount of European descendants live, it is called quentão or vinho quente ("hot wine"). It is typically made with red wine, cachaça (rum), cinnamon sticks and cloves. It is served as part of the Festa Junina, celebrated during winter in the month of June.

Glogg is the term used for mulled wine in the Nordic countries: Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Estonia and Finland.
Versions of mulled wine can also be found in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Macedonia, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Serbia, and Turkey.

In Quebec, Canada, red wine is mixed with maple syrup and hard alcohol and heated. The drink is called Caribou and is very popular during the Quebec Winter Carnival.

Clearly, mulled wine recipes around the world are variations on the same theme. An inexpensive red wine, sugar or honey added to sweeten it, and then spiced with anything from peppercorns to cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, and finally fruit: sometimes apples and nearly always citrus fruits, such as lemon or oranges.
You can make this warm, soothing drink at home very easily for yourself, your family and friends this holiday season, as I plan to do. There’s nothing like it to put you in the Christmas spirit!

Mulled Wine


3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange
10 whole cloves
1 (750 milliliter) bottle red wine


In a saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer. Cut the orange in half, and squeeze the juice into the simmering water. Push the cloves into the outside of the orange peel, and place peel in the simmering water. Continue simmering for 30 minutes, until thick and syrupy.

Pout in the wine, and heat until steaming but not simmering. Remove the clove-studded orange halves.

Serve hot in mugs or clear glasses that have been preheated in warm water (cold glasses might break).

Makes six 4 oz servings.

I also wanted to list Jamie Oliver’s recipe, which has a few additional ingredients and sounds really good.

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