Mulled wine is basically warm, spiced wine. It is usually made with a red wine and will be served around Christmastime and during the winter months. There are many variations of it around the world and it’s one of those great recipes you can adjust and change to your own personal taste. This doesn’t mean you can’t mess it up though. While traveling in Europe one December I tried two different variations of mulled wine in Prague and only one was tasty.

Try making it with combinations of cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, anise, cardamom, allspice, cloves, citrus fruits, peppercorns, sugar, honey, brandy, rum, etc. You can use a dry or a fruity wine (or experiment with both to find out what you like). I chose a Merlot and the recipe I used is Alton Brown’s – there are hundreds out there but this one sounded interesting, both because of the ingredients and because of the method used to infuse the flavors.

Clockwise from top left: black peppercorns, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, star anise

Ingredients

  • 6 whole allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, sliced
  • 3 large strips orange zest
  • 3 large strips lemon zest
  • 2 (750-ml) bottles red wine
  • ¾ cup honey

Directions

In the basket of a coffee percolator place the allspice berries, peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon sticks, ginger and citrus zest. Pour the wine and honey into the percolator. Attach basket, cover and let percolate for 1 to 2 hours. Serve hot.

Make sure you use a large enough percolator to hold the whole bottle of wine or you may want to adjust the proportions of spices accordingly. The smell of the warm, steamed spices and wine as it wafts out of the percolator is amazing. It made me think of everything good about Christmas and being with my family and friends.

The mulled wine received mixed reviews but more good than bad. The taste was strong – I won’t lie. It’s not for everyone but most people who tried it enjoyed it. It will be fun to experiment with other recipes in the future.

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