In Trinidad we sip on Ponche de Creme for Christmas, but this year I’m changing things up, keeping with my Christmas in Canada traditions and sipping on some Mulled Wine. Definitely a new and exciting experience for me, but I’m always up for a challenge (especially when it comes to food) and trying mulled wine for the first time was a great way to get into the holiday season.
What is Mulled Wine?
Mulled wine is a spiced wine, usually red wine, that is served hot or warm. Made with a variety of spices, fruit and sugar, it is very popular throughout Europe, served especially during winter when it’s chilly. And with the weather outside, I think it was the perfect thing to try this Christmas. But don’t worry, even if you’re not spending Christmas in a chilly climate, I’ve found that this mulled wine served over ice makes a nice refreshing Christmas Drink!
While researching Mulled Wine, I found a variety of recipes. But with all the recipes there are a few things they all have in common. It is a combination of Red Wine, Spices, Citrus, Sweetener & in some instances, Brandy.
Red wine is key in mulled wine. And the more full bodied the better as it stands up well to the addition of the spices and citrus. For our version we chose a Malbec and it worked perfectly.
But if you’re not a fan of red wine, there are some White Wine Mulled Wine Recipes and even Mulled Apple Cider recipes that might tickle your fancy.
Whole spices are the best for Mulling wine. Ground spices can leave a weird sensation in our mouth, and make your mulled wine an unpleasant thing to drink. The most common and traditional spices that I found in most of the Mulled Wine recipes are Cinnamon, Clove & Star Anise, but there were some instances when I saw the addition of nutmeg, cardamon, ginger and whole all spice. In the combination of spices, there is no right or wrong here, it is all a matter of your taste!
Orange is the top citrus added to mulled wine recipes, but I did see some additions of lemon and it gave a nice subtle addition to our recipe. Key thing to remember when adding your citrus, you don’t want the juice, you simply want to infuse your mulled wine. So add them as slices, or a few peels of zest. You can even substitute the actual citrus for some orange liqueur to give the flavor without the actual fruit!
The addition of a sweetener to the Mulled wine is to give a balance of all the flavors. Most people add either white or brown sugar, but we wanted to keep ours on the lighter side and opted for coconut sugar, which gave the Mulled wine a deep colour, and rich flavour. Plus its lower in calories so it was a win for us! You can even substitute sugar for honey, but that can add an additional flavor that may not be to everyone’s liking.
Adding a splash of brandy or some additional alcohol to your mulled wine is a way of making up for some of the alcohol that gets boiled off while simmering. We used a flavored brandy, but some people have added port to their recipes. Some people add it to the simmering liquid, but I found adding it before serving was a great little extra kick!
To Mull your Wine!
The key to a great mulled wine is NOT to let is boil, but to simmer slowly and infuse your wine with the flavors of the spices and citrus. Under no circumstance should you ever boil your wine. This not only cause the flavor to change for the worse, but it will also evaporate any alcohol present in your wine. You want to simmer it low and slow so that the flavor imparts into your wine. Some people use a slow cooker and this is a great option especially if you are making this for a gathering. You could place your ingredients in the slow cooker and set it right before your guests arrive. This way it stays warm and ready to serve.
Making this recipe was so easy and fun. You are able to create a drink that is traditional but still your own depending on your combination of citrus and spices. It’s a great recipe to addition to your holiday recipes and I hope you enjoy our version here:
PS. This serves up well with a batch of my Gluten Free Orange & Cranberry Oat Biscotti