24. November 2005 · Comments Off on An Ancient Holiday Beverage · Categories: Eat, Drink and be Merry

I have been meaning to research the history of mulled wine, on the internet, for at least the past two or three holiday seasons – seems I’ve never gotten around to it. But it’s something I’ve been experimenting with, to varying degrees of delight and repulsion among my family and friends, for 20-25 years now. Anyway, as my mulled wines are something of an ad hoc affair, I thought I’d take this recipe from About.com, and add my own notes (in italics):

With cooler weather swirling in and the holidays just around the corner, nothing could be cozier than a toasty mug of mulled wine. Mulled wine, the vine’s version of a classic hot toddy, is a traditional holiday treat in many Old World countries. Mulled wines have been warming people for centuries. They are a wine that has been sweetened, spiced and slightly heated – offering a delightful alternative to traditional coffees, ciders and toddy’s at holiday gatherings.


One bottle of red wine (suggestions: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel or Merlot). You want a really full-bodied red. Cabernet is perfect – most Zinfandels are a bit too light.
One peeled and sliced orange (keep peel to add zest to taste into cooking pot). Have a zester – trying to zest a citrus peel with, say, a cheese grater, really sucks.
¼ cup of brandy. I would go more like ½ cup. And, in the absence of a good brandy, Tennessee sippin’ whiskey works pretty good too.
8-10 cloves. I would use a little less.
2/3 cup honey or sugar. I use brown sugar, but white sugar with a bit of molasses works too.
3 cinnamon sticks. I would use 5 or 6, and pull the undissolved part out to put in each cup as a garnish – perhaps with a mint leaf.
1 tsp. fresh or 2 tsp. ground ginger (allspice can be substituted). I’ve never tried allspice.

Serves 4-6


Combine all ingredients in either a large pot or a slow cooker. Gently warm the ingredients on low to medium heat (avoid boiling), for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure that the honey or sugar has completely dissolved. LOW heat is the key (I’m thinking of trying a crock-pot this year). Boiling – or even close to boiling – really screws it up. Zest to taste. Remove cinnamon sticks while they still look like sticks. I’ve tried putting in mint leaves, but they really overpower things really fast – and then don’t look as good as a garnish.

When the wine is steaming and the ingredients have blended well it is ready to serve allow to cool just a bit. Ladle into mugs (leaving seasonings behind) and enjoy! I strain it through a mesh colander.

Feel free to experiment. 🙂

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