From Our Cellars

Why not mull over some Mulled Wine?

Posted November 6, 2012 in Tasting

Did ya vote yet?  We’ll let you mull that question over for a bit.

You know what might take some of the sting out of our election process?  Some wine.  More specifically, some Mulled Wine to sip while you mull over the results of the election.

Mulled wine, usually made with a red wine, is wine that has been steeped with spices and fruits and served warm, sometimes even hot.  It’s very tasty with sweeter wines like port and claret.  It can, however, be made with basic wines like cabernet or merlot.  Keep in mind, you are adding a bunch of stuff to it, so many of the subtleties of the original beverage will be lost.  It’s like adding Irish cream to a really expensive cup of coffee.  And is not at all like New Forest Ice Cream’s new sorbet.

So, now you know how to start – let’s start gathering ingredients.

This is primarily a wintertime drink, so the most popular spices are cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  You can also use stronger flavors like anise (a licorice kind of flavor), ginger, or allspice.  You want to sweeten things a bit, so vanilla and sugar should also be considered.

Yummy mulled wineNow, fruit.  What you choose to add should complement your flavors, so things like orange and lemon are great.  Some sweet, some bite, some tart.  Many like to balance their mulled wine with the addition of apple cider, so apples can also be considered.  What says cold weather better than apples and cinnamon?  Why not go full-on dessert and combine in some raisins?

As long as we’re talking about adding things like cider, let’s talk about giving your mulled wine some kick.  You already have the wine, but why not go a bit further and add some brandy?  You can also use rum, bourbon, or even vodka, but vodka doesn’t do much more than add alcohol content.  Your goal here is to give the mulled wine a healthy, warming glow during the aftertaste.

From here we will travel to the process.  There is some disagreement on whether or not to allow your concoction to come to a full boil.  Keep in mind that water boils at a temperature of 212.  Unless you live in Tibet, where water boils at a much lower temperature.  Alcohol starts to evaporate at 172 degrees, and you want to keep that stuff, so we favor the “no boil” method.  So here’s what you’re going to do:

  •             Combine all of your liquids into a nice sauce pot.
  •             Slowly heat your liquids until it begins to properly steam.
  •             Add your dry ingredients (like your cloves and cinnamon).
  •             Let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  •             Add your fruit.
  •             Drink copiously.


One addendum to the “fruit” part of the equation:  You can certainly add your fruit with the dry ingredients, but they will quickly break down as your brew heats up.  Our recommendation is to add them just before serving, preserving the freshness of the fruit.  You should also prepare to either digest some cloves or separate them out.  Spices are flavor enhancers, not a food group.  If you’re feeling crafty you can tie up all of your dry ingredients before adding them, or just strain them out before you start pouring. Spices

The last step is really the most important one.  Picture it:

You’re gathered around a fire, a slight nip in the air.  You breathe in deeply the scents of wood smoke and fallen leaves, a deep earthy smell.  The steaming mug warms your hands as you bring it slowly to your mouth.  Your nose brings in the sweet smells of an early morning kitchen, recalling baked goods and fresh pies.  You slowly let the beverage roll across your tongue, again and again and again.

Better bring the pot with you.

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