Arguably one of the best parts of Christmas is the warm, delicious delight that is a good glass of mulled wine. Whether its holding a warming cup as we wander round Christmas markets, or (more likely this year) at home snuggled up with it heating on the stove, the traditional Christmas drink brings warmth and happiness. So here is a recipe to make your own, as well as a short history on how we came to drink this beverage each festive season.
1. A brief history of mulled wine
During the Romans Empire, Romans would heat wine to guard their bodies against the bitter winter cold. As the Empire spread, so did mulled wine, and its popularity then continued to grow throughout the middle ages. Europeans added spices to the drink, believing it to promote health and avoid sickness, and used herbs and flowers to sweeten low quality wines and improve their taste. The popularity of the drink later decreased across most of Europe, apart from Sweden, where it became even more popular. The Swedish monarchy enjoyed the drink and over centuries made several variations. Claret (Rhen wine, sugar, honey and spices) and Lutendrank (spices, wine and milk) are just two of these.
Adaptations of mulled wine were written in various recipe books, and in the 1800s the drink again gained popularity. In the 1890s, the drink became associated with Christmas and wine merchants across the country had their own unique recipes to share. These were eventually distributed throughout Europe and over the next several decades mulled wine became a global phenomenon. There are still many variations of mulled wine which people everywhere enjoy over the Christmas season.
2. How to make your own
This is a recipe which I find works well and is not overcomplicated, you can adapt it to taste and it is based on just red wine so you don’t need to source any extra fancy alcohols!
- 750ml red wine
- 1 large cinnamon stick or 2 small ones
- 2 star anise (and/or nutmeg if easier)
- 4 cloves
- 2 strips lemon zest
- 4 tbsp caster sugar
- For a stronger citrus flavour add orange zest too
STEP 1: Pour the red wine into a large pan and add the cinnamon, star anise, cloves, lemon zest and sugar (and nutmeg and orange if using). Cook on a low heat for 10 minutes.
STEP 2: Take the pan off the heat and cool, leaving the beverage infuse for about 30 mins.
STEP 3: Heat again without boiling, and pour into mugs or heatproof glasses to enjoy the delicious warm drink. The mulled wine should keep in the fridge for about 24-48 hours, but if you have added citrus this will start to ferment so 24 hours is the recommended maximum.
Sit back, breathe in the delicious aromas and enjoy your lovely homemade mulled wine, cheers!