Is there anything better to drink during the winter than mulled wine? We think not and we’re willing to prove it to you. There are plenty of ways to get more flavor out of this hot, scorching, warming drink.
The season to be jolly is in full swing these days, which means that your local grocery store is fully decorated, there are merry carols blasting off from sound systems everywhere and you can drink one of the oldest hot beverages known to man, mulled wine, to put some color in your cheeks and feel a bit of fire in your belly.
Yeah, I just said: one of the oldest hot beverages known to man, because mulled wine is that old! It’s popular all over the world. The French know it as vin chaud and it sounds quite inviting, doesn’t it? But did you know that Ancient Egyptians were some of the first people to enjoy it? Warm and spicy wine was quite popular around 300 B.C., in Egypt! Ancient Romans took to it as well – Pliny the Elder wrote about the virtues of the drink they called Piment. And the famous Greek philosopher Hippocrates prescribed spiced wine as a medicinal tonic. With that kind of history attached, who can not love the allure of mulled wine?
In the Middle Ages, Europeans called it ‘Hippocras’, in the memory of the philosopher, and cooked it up with long pepper, bay leaves, and cardamom, which were strained through filters invented by the great Greek. And there’s a relationship to sangria as well because the famous fruit and wine drink used to be hot, too.
And during Victorian times, people added spices to their wine to improve the flavors of the poorly stored drink shipped in from France.
What to use to make mulled wine
1. Get yourself some red wine
Choose a good but not very good red wine. I mean, very good red wine should be drunk and enjoyed in a glass, no need to improve upon its flavor. The best kind of wine for mulling is full-bodied wine like Syrah and Malbec. Add the wine to a crock-pot or a heavy bottomed pan and warm it up.
2. You can sweeten it
All throughout history, people used to add all kinds of sweeteners to their wine. As they did, you can go for cane sugar or honey. Or you can just skip this step since we now know how bad sugar is for everybody. Not to mention that a sweet wine is so tasty that it ends up tricking you into drinking more of it. And mulled wine is best consumed in moderation, just like any other type of alcohol.
3. Choose some flavors
You have so many things to choose from! Baking spices are always favorites when it comes to that: cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and coriander if you can tolerate it. You can also add fresh or dried figs, any type of citrus you feel like it, to give it a sour kick, and even make a sangria mulled wine combo by adding the fruits you love, like apples and pears, for instance.
Ancient Romans used to use saffron (which might be a tad expensive these days), ginger, cardamom seeds, and honey. Cleopatra’s favorite recipe had sage, mint, cloves, and chopped figs in it. The medieval Hippocras was made with crushed cinnamon sticks, cloves, water, honey, and long pepper.
These days, the French add some cognac, cinnamon sticks, slices of orange, and cloves to the mix. The Portuguese mix two types of wine, red port and Madeira, and add some orange slices, cinnamon sticks, and cloves. The Spanish go for more on the citrus front, with clementine and lemon peel, sugar, cinnamon sticks, a vanilla bean, brandy, and nutmeg. While Germans use sugar, star anise, lemon, cloves, and cardamom pods. Nordic people make gløgg, a mulled wine mixed with brandy, cloves, raisins, slivered almonds, cardamom seeds, sugar, and orange zest.