Mulled wine is one of winter’s great pleasures—greater, I believe, than eggnog—and yet I rarely drink it. This year I’m hoping to change that. I was recently reminded of its appeal while visiting a college friend in Berlin. One evening, very casually, he pulled out a bottle of cabernet sauvignon, poured it into a pot, brought it to a boil and then simmered it with a variety of spices, including cinnamon and cardamom pods. In Germany, mulled wine is called glühwein, but it’s pretty much the same as what you’ll find in the States. It was a delicious, cozy, and relaxing drink.
With that in mind, here’s a look at how to make mulled wine. It’s easy to do and difficult to mess up.
Cooking dinner shouldn't be complicated
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Any red will work because you’ll be adding a number of other ingredients—fruits and spices and sugar—that will help accentuate its flavor (though if you have a preferred wine, use it). Liter bottles are best for making mulled wine because they are often more affordable, and because there’s simply more wine to go around. Pour the wine straight into a large pot. I have seen some people use slow cookers to make mulled wine, but by no means do you need one.
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This is the point at which you can get creative. Some recipes advise that you include oranges and apple juice, while others suggest using peppercorns and allspice. You can experiment here because the end result is generally always going to taste good. I prefer a subtler mulled wine, so into the pot I’d throw some sliced oranges, cinnamon sticks, maybe some nutmeg, perhaps a little ginger and a couple of tablespoons of sugar. You can use what’s in your pantry. If you don’t have an ingredient, don’t worry about it. Finally, pour in a few glugs of brandy or rum for an extra kick.
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Now, bring your concoction to a boil, but turn the heat down right when this happens so the wine can simmer for about 20 or 30 minutes without becoming overly syrupy. This will also give the wine enough time to absorb the flavors of the other ingredients. Make sure to cover the pot during this period of simmering. When it’s ready, ladle the fragrant drink into mugs and enjoy it hot. Drinking hot mulled wine is invigorating because the alcoholic steam can singe your throat a little. But hey—that’s part of its appeal.
So, the next time you have guests over during the holiday season, I’d highly recommend making a pot of mulled wine. It is a quintessential winter beverage—and one that is so simple to make, you don't have much of a reason not to.
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