Wine School

Mulled Red Wine

A little spice is nice

Mulled Wine, A History

Glögg, Glühwein, Hippocras... throughout the ages mulled wine has been called many things, but to us we only use one word: "delightful." This winter wonder was first recorded in Rome in the second century when Romans heated their extra wine with spices to save it from being wasted. By adding honey, pepper, saffron or even dates, they gave red wine a twist and called it Conditum Paradoxum, which in Latin roughly translates to "spiced." As the Roman Empire spread, so did the recipe.

In the Middle Ages as the Black Plague ravaged Europe the recipe went viral. People believed adding spices made them healthier and the lack of drinkable water made this alcoholic drink even more enticing. The modern perception of mulled wine came from Victorian England, when Charles Dickens mentioned it in "A Christmas Carol," solidifying its association with the winter holidays.

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How It's Made

Although there are many variations, mulled wine is usually made by combining a bottle of dry, fruit-driven wine, such as Merlot or Zinfandel, with a few shots of port or brandy. Now for the fun part--add anything from fruit zest to cloves, allspice or peppercorn. Finish it off with fresh berries and sugar, then cook over medium heat until the sugars dissolve. Simmering lets the flavors meld, then pour through a fine-mesh sieve. To add even more seasonal flourish add a cinnamon stick for garnish. Try Martha's mulled wine recipe that also adds cardomom.