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What is the definition of a good wine?

It should start and end with a smile

-William Sokolin

If there is one post that I am going to enjoy writing about, it’s this one. With a glass of toasty mulled wine by my side and the cheer of festivity in the air, there is no better way to celebrate Yuletide than with some warmth in this ruby glow glass of intoxication.

Last night we ushered in Christmas with our friends and while there were all the fancy labels one can imagine in a bar, it was mulled wine that everyone raised their hands for. We should have expected it. Mulled wine is associated as much to Christmas as is our good old man, Santa Claus.

Mulled wine and Christmas

The Romans are said to be the first ones who warmed the wine to protect themselves from the bitter cold in the second century. Gradually, people started adding spices for two reasons — First, to mask the inferior quality of wine used by using the more aromatic, woody spices. Secondly, it was the perfect concoction for the bitter cold winters providing protection and immunity. The new take on wine started gaining popularity throughout Europe, initially. It then fizzled away except in Sweden where the Swedes fancied it and added their own flowers and herbs. These recipes were given different names though they all fell in the broad category of Glögg.

It was only at the fag end of the 19th century that a connect was made with Christmas and Glögg. Repackaged in fancy bottles with Santa Claus pictures, it swept the European markets. A perfect market entry during winters and festive season sealed its association with Christmas.

Difference between Glögg and Mulled Wine.

Mulled wine is a warm traditional beverage made with red wine and various mulling spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and star anise with a twirl of a citrus rind usually that of a lemon or orange.

The Glögg is a Swedish mulled wine. It is a heady combination of red wine, akvavit, sugar and signature spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bitter orange. Often Sauternes, vodka and brandy are also used. Served in mugs with tiny spoons, blanched almonds and raisins are first put before the glögg is added. (This step is skipped in mulled wine.) Served with ginger cookies this makes the perfect Nordic mulled wine experience.

The main ingredients to make mulled wine are red wine, brandy, orange, star anise, cloves, cinnamon and honey

A quick and easy preparation

While wine is the backbone of this drink, it’s not important to get the most expensive wine for its preparation. Choose from a Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel or Merlot. While one can play around with the spices the most important ones are star anise, cloves, and cinnamon — something that nearly all Indian kitchens have. A quarter cup of brandy, two tablespoons of honey, the above mentioned three spices and one orange are all that you need. Last night, everybody’s raised hands did ring a bell in my head. Anticipating that the mulled wine could get short for all the guests, we hurried up to get the second batch ready. The preparation is easy and doesn’t take long. Thankfully, it was all warm and ready to be guzzled by the time the first batch got over. Ideally one should let the wine simmer for as long as two or three hours (on a slow cooker or lowest setting) so that all the flavors mingle together but if required even 15 minutes on the medium-low burner would do fine. An extended simmering on the burner may make it less alcoholic, more concentrated, and possibly more spiced.

Mulled wine- A drink perfect for winters.

Isn’t it true that the best things in life are simple and exude warmth and love? They come under the “no-fuss” category. Like a bag of freshly popped popcorn at the movies. A cosy, fluffed up blanket when you’re sleepy. A hot chocolate fudge on a hot, summer day. A big hug by the one you love. And a glass of toasty, warm mulled wine on a dark, wintry night. Try it! You’ll know what I mean. Cheers!

Print Recipe
A Winter Christmas And A Glass Of Mulled Wine
Keyword food
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Keyword food
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a pan before setting it on the burner. Keep the flame on medium-high.
  2. Once the wine starts to simmer, reduce the flame to medium-low and cover with a lid. Let the wine simmer for 15 minutes or as long as an hour. Strain and garnish. Serve while still warm.
  3. As options, you could add 2-3 cardamoms, 1" ginger, a grated nutmeg or a vanilla pod.
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