Seriously, it is so cold in Canberra at the moment that it’s definitely time to try out some warm, spicy wine. Cold nights are perfect for trying out a couple of recipes for mulled wine or Glühwein. But first, what’s the difference …
Mulled wine is the English name for hot, spicy wine, and Glühwein is the German name for … yep, hot, spicy wine. Wine was first recorded as heated and spiced in Rome during the 2nd century. The Romans then travelled across Europe; conquered most of it, traded with the rest, and brought with them wine and viticulture. Mulled wine was first mentioned in English cookery in the 14th century and included ground cinnamon, ginger, galangal, cloves, pepper, nutmeg, marjoram, cardamom, and ‘grains of paradise’ (whatever they may be), all mixed with red wine and sugar, and heated.
There are many different recipes for mulled wine, and each one may taste totally different, for example, some people may not like, and omit, cinnamon or ginger or one of the other spices. So often the quantity of spice is not noted in recipes, and it’s often just a matter of ‘add a bit of spice and taste test’.
Some recipes suggest full-bodied wines such as Malbec or Syrah, but a red blend—such as a Cabernet Sauvignon—is often a bit cheaper than single varietal wine. And some variations of mulled wine use a white wine such as Riesling or Muscat. But whatever wine you use, mulled wine is basically a matter of heating wine and spices together.
Easy red mulled wine—serves 8
What you need: 1 orange sliced and seeded, ½ cup sugar, 2 cups water, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 bottle red wine.
What you do: Heat the spices and water together in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the red wine and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and strain, and divide evenly among the glasses or mugs. You can add a slice of orange and/or small stick of cinnamon to serve.
Impressive red mulled wine—serves 8
What you need: 1 (750 ml) bottle of dry red wine, 1 orange sliced, ¼ cup brandy (optional), ¼ cup honey or sugar, 8 whole cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 star anise, and optional garnishes such as citrus slices (orange, lemon and/or lime), extra cinnamon sticks, extra star anise.
What you do: Combine all ingredients in a non-aluminium saucepan, and bring to a simmer on a medium to high heat—do not allow to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and let the wine simmer for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours. Strain, and serve warm with your desired garnishes. Alternatively, you can also place the oranges, cloves, cinnamon, and star anise in a cheesecloth. Then simply strain and pull out the bundle when ready to serve.
Mulled white wine—serves 6
White mulled wine has all the flavour of red but has a much lighter body so the taste of spices may be a little stronger. A Chardonnay works well for this recipe. What you need: 1 orange, 5 whole cloves, 3 star anise pods, 1 piece (about 1 inch) of peeled fresh ginger thinly sliced, 1 cup water, ¼ cup sugar, 1 bottle white wine.
What you do: Peel orange into strips—carefully avoiding the pith, and push the cloves into the peel. Combine the peel, star anise, ginger, water and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring all the time to dissolve the sugar, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the wine. Stand for 20 minutes to mull. Warm gently over a medium heat immediately prior to serving. Enjoy!