HOW TO: MAKE THE PERFECT MULLED WINE
In this week’s ‘How To’ guide, we’re getting the festive season started with the perfect glass of warming Glühwein – traditional German mulled wine.
Named after the red hot irons that warmed the wine on cold European evenings many years ago, Glühwein is incredibly popular across Europe at this time of year. Warm, fragrant and deliciously moreish, what’s not to love in this Christmas staple?
Step One – Choosing a Bottle
As is often the case, there’s no wrong answer when picking a wine for a cocktail, especially in the case of mulled wine – there’s plenty of spice and aromatics involved that’ll work with many grapes and styles. Generally, something fruity and easy to drink will be your best bet here, like our Siro Fifty or Pure Vision Merlot.
That being said, most wines you have in your fridge or wine rack should be fine. Don’t use your best Barolo, but make sure it’s a wine that you’d be happy for your guests to drink minus the spices. For an added kick, use a glug of brandy. Or for something even more decadent, mixing in a fortified wine like Port will create a beautifully rich drink.
- 1 bottle (750ml) of your choice of wine
- ¼ – ½ cups of brandy or Port, to taste, if using
Step Two – Sorting the Spices
Spices and aromatics are the key to a great Glühwein. Think Christmassy flavours, and you can’t go wrong. We like cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, clove and ginger for the spices, mixed with lemons and oranges for that festive feel.
There’s a chance to experiment here, though. Vanilla, cardamom, even ginger wine will all be welcome additions that give slightly different flavour profiles. If you prefer something a little more robust, brown sugar, honey or maple syrup will all work in place of caster sugar. Decide what works best for you – the style of wine you choose may affect this as much as what you think your guests will appreciate the most.
- 1 lemon, peeled
- 1 orange, peeled and juiced
- 5 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of ground ginger
- 75g caster sugar
Step Three – Warming the Wine
The best way to create the layers of flavour in your mulled wine is to make a spiced syrup as the base of your drink. Add the peel of your lemon and orange to a pan with sugar and spices, and use the juice of the orange and just enough of the wine to cover the sugar. Gently heat this mixture until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally, and cook until you have a thick syrup (around five to eight minutes).
This syrup can be stored for future use (make sure to keep it in sterilised jars) in the fridge. If you’re making the mulled wine to be drunk now, add the rest of the wine and slowly warm. You can strain the wine through a muslin cloth if you prefer a cleaner look, but it isn’t entirely necessary.
You can also heat the wine all in one process (this is particularly helpful if you have guests to entertain!), adding all the ingredients and slowly warming. Be wary though; aggressive cooking will render the fruits and spices bitter, giving the finished drink an unpleasant taste. Keep the drink warm on the hob until needed, or store in the fridge for up to 48 hours if made ahead of time.
Step Four – Garnishing the Glass
We like the occasional traditional touch here at Brown Bag Wines, so a wedge of orange studded with cloves is our choice. A bit more work than usual, but the sweet, spiced fragrance is intoxicating – worth that extra effort.
Dried fruits are of course associated with this season, so if you prefer, garnish with your choice of dried apricots, raisins, currants and the like. Flaked almonds are also a nice touch.
Serve in a glass mug with a handle, if you have one. It’ll look the part and, crucially, will protect fingers against the hot wine.
- 1 orange
- Some cloves
- Glass jug with handle
‘Tis the season to be jolly
Get this festive season started with a glass of Germany’s most famous wine cocktail. With these recipe tips, you’ll be hosting the best Christkindlmarket this side of Düsseldorf