I had the dubious pleasure of taking part in a mulled wine test for a well-known German newspaper a few years ago. We visited several Christmas markets and tasted our way through the mulled wines on offer. The result was sobering: most vendors were using mass-produced, packaged mulled wine blends. It was too often too obvious these had been made from the most basic of wines. Wines unsuitable as table wines because of their conspicuous defects of taste! Why not make your mulled wine yourself? At least then you know what’s in it…
What Kind of Wine Should You Use?
It probably goes without saying, using high-quality red wine for mulling is a waste. Plus it’s not at all necessary! Use a clean, freshly produced table wine instead– one that you could enjoy drinking with meals on a day-to-day basis. It’s important for the wine to have a juicy, prominent fruitiness. It shouldn’t have a strong tannin presence (with lots of powerful tannic acids) or a very oaky aroma. Both become unpleasant influences when you’re heating up the wine. Young, fruity German red wines from grape varieties such as Dornfelder or Zweigelt are ideal.
Essential Spices for A Perfect Mulled Wine
When it comes to spices, try avoiding packaged mulled wine spice mixes. Create your own mix instead. Not only can you add the traditional cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cardamom, star anise and an untreated and well-washed orange peel, you can also experiment with your own ideas. For example, adding a little ginger adds a whole new dimension of flavor. To sweeten mulled wine I always use a little cane sugar, which I find works far better than white sugar. Unlike the variety often encountered at Christmas markets, a good mulled wine shouldn’t be kept hot for too long. Once heated and filtered, it quickly loses its kick, its fruitiness and its tastiness.
Making Your Own Mulled Wine Couldn’t Be Easier
Now you know what to look for when choosing a wine, and what ingredients are needed to prepare mulled wine. The kitchen team at the Interalpen Hotel in Tyrol, Austria has created a delicious recipe for you to try at home.
For our mulled wine you will need the following:
1.5l red wine (2 standard bottles)
12 fl. oz of rum
1 vanilla pod (halved length-ways)
1 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
5 star anise
5 cardamom seeds
5 allspice berries
1 small piece of ginger
1/2 cup of raisins
1/3 cup of cane sugar
Combine all the ingredients and bring them to a boil. Immediately remove from heat. Leave to steep for about 30 minutes. For a non alcoholic version, simply replace the wine and rum with orange or apple juice- now children and drivers can enjoy a delicious, warming drink too!”
What other warm drinks do you enjoy in winter? Please write to us and tell us! Simply use the comment function below this post or start/join the discussion on Facebook.