A Special Drop: Mulled Wine

Jamie Oliver Mulled Wine
Mulled wine by Jamie Oliver.

Mulled wine isn’t something that’s ever really been on my radar, but recently while celebrating my sister’s birthday I enjoyed a warming glass of it over the course of a sociable winter’s afternoon, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

So what is mulled wine? Well, there’s no single recipe but the basic concept is pretty consistent. It’s wine, usually red, which has been warmed, sweetened with sugar or honey, and infused with spices. The addition of citrus juice and/or peel seems to be a more recent innovation which makes sense when you consider the other flavours involved. Often the spices and sugar will be simmered in water until the flavours have infused, then the wine will be added and brought to temperature before serving. This preserves the alcohol content of the wine, because who wants to lose that? (some people, obviously, and non-alcoholic variations do exist. On the other hand apparently you can charge it up with a shot of spirits).

Title page of Mrs Beeton
Title page of an early edition of Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management.

The earliest records of mulled wine date back to Roman times, and it’s recorded in medieval literature and in the 1869 edition of Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management. It’s found throughout Europe, from whence, presumably, it made its way to countries like New Zealand which were colonised by Europeans.

If you want to have a go at making mulled wine, Mrs. Beeton advises that you should make it to your own tastes. Typical spices include a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, mace, star anise, cardamom, and fennel seeds.

Have you tried mulled wine? What did you think?

 Always drink responsibly. One standard drink of wine is approximately 100ml (3.3 fl oz). The New Zealand Ministry of Health recommends that women consume no more than 2 standard drinks a day, and no more than 10 standard drinks a week, and that men consume no more than 3 standard drinks a day and no more than 15 standard drinks a week (note that this is slightly lower than the limits recommended by the World Health Organisation). The World Health Organisation recommends that women abstain from alcohol during pregnancy. In New Zealand the legal drinking age is 18. Do not drink alcohol if you are under the legal age to do so in your country. It is illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol.

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