Now, the other way around – I will enlighten my non-American friends with something truly European. Glühwein, or mulled wine, is a European classic of hot spiced wine, perfect for drinking while you wander a Christmas market, after a day on the ski slopes, or just while you sit and watch Christmas movies.
There are so many variations to spices, wines and quantities used for this recipe around the continent. The following is my own take on it, inspired by many different variations that I have tried! An ideal red wine for this recipe would be a fruity red, and I personally wouldn’t recommend anything too expensive. Most bottles have the flavour profile written on them. Something Spanish, or a California Zinfandel and you are looking good. Definitely don’t buy the best nicest driest red wine you can – you want fruit and flavor for this.
Spices are up to your own preference, and can be bought in sachets at the markets ready made or you can make your own sachets. You’ll need cloves, star anise, and cinnamon sticks for the classic mix, and can experiment with nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, and peppercorns in your mixture. Fresh ginger can make another interesting additive. This recipe below is for 1-2 bottles of wine, if making 3-4 bottles then just add 50g more of sugar and one more each of each spice, and for 5-6 bottles add another 50g of sugar and one more of each spice.
Finally, orange juice. Fresh oranges make this warm wine mixture even more divine. As you need the peel of the orange, it only makes sense to squeeze out all of the juice into the wine mixture. Some people add some lemon as well for more citrus flavour. Be sure to cut the peel very carefully, so that you do not take the bitter layer called the pith, but instead get all of the benefit of the zest without the annoying process of zesting it.
How do you make mulled wine? There is really not a wrong way. Take all of your spices and throw them in a pot, add a fair amount of brown sugar. Pour in the bottle of wine (or 2 or 3) of your choice, squeeze in the orange and or lemon juice, add the orange rind, and let the wine mull low and slow. Don’t get it too hot or you will cook out the alcohol! After about 30 minutes, serve the delicious mixture warm.
I haven’t got a picture of my own homemade mulled wine because I drink it too fast, but here is one of Aaron enjoying some along the Southbank market two years ago:
- 1-2 bottles of fruity red wine
- 100g light brown sugar
- 4 whole cloves
- 3 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- optional: a dash of nutmeg, 3 cardamom pods, 2 bay leaves
- 1 orange, peel carefully removed and then juice squeezed out
- optional: lemon zest and squeezed lemon juice
- Add everything together in a pot on the stove, letting the squeezed orange halves sit in the mix. Turn the heat on low, stir together, and heat gently. Let heat through for 20-30 minutes, and serve hot.