Mulled wine is synonymous with spectacular postcard scenes - no matter where in the world you live. Christmas winter wonderlands, ice skating under the snow and wandering food markets while sipping on a hot mug of mulled goodness.
Its long history with festivities and family traditions has made it popular in Australia too. Despite Christmas often being a heat wave, mulled wine and cider offers a cosy and comfortable experience any time of the year - especially when those cool Autumn nights creep in.
In celebration of International Mulled Wine Day on Friday the 4th of March, we wanted to share some of our favourite mulled recipes.
But first, here’s a little background into the tradition of hot wine and cider.
Mulled Wine - More than a Christmas Drink
People have been mulling spices with their wines and ciders for centuries. Since the Ancient Greek days, hot wine has become a tipple of choice among many with its fruity, festive and fragrant characteristics known to warm your belly and lift your spirit.
Although famously associated with winter and Christmas, mulled wine and cider make the perfect addition to year-round holidays. And this Labour Day long weekend is no exception!
A Short History of Hot Wine
Mulled wine traces back centuries when the Romans and Greeks mixed it with honey and spices such as cinnamon, ginger and cloves to stay warm in harsh winters. It was believed to have medicinal properties and was often served at banquets and feasts.
Throughout the Middle Ages in Europe, the recipe was adapted to include ingredients such as nutmeg, star anise, peppercorn, cardamom and orange peel, then served with toasted bread or roasted chestnuts.
Over time mulled wine continued to evolve, with different regions and cultures adding their own unique modern twists.
Whether you enjoy a traditional mulled drink, a Vodka-spiked mulled wine (think Polish Christmas markets) or mulled wine with a shot of rum or port (as the Germans and Scandinavians do), the spicy aroma can add cheer to any occasion.
A Short History of Mulled Cider
In the 16th century, as mulled wine was gaining more popularity around the world, mulled apple cider made its way into the bellies of British people.
But it dates back much longer than that.
Hot mulled cider originated in the southwest of England as a descendant of an older drink. ‘Wassail’, from the 1700s, was made from roasted apples and warmed mead. The name stems from the ancient tradition of visiting orchards in the cider-producing parts of England and translates to good health and fortune, making the drink a renowned symbol of generosity and hospitality.
While mulled wine was more popular in wine-making areas of the world like Europe, mulled apple cider was more readily available in the UK making it a traditional British celebration drink. It was made with apple cider or ale and seasoned with mulled wine spices such as ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Traditionally, the cider was warmed with a hot poker heated in the open fire, then stirred in the jug of mulled cider for maximum warmth and flavour.
Mulled Recipes to Keep Your Cup Full
At Mountford Wines and Tangletoe Cidery, we think cider lends itself to mulling more than wine for a lighter, fruitier alternative. Because it’s less heavy than mulled wine, our traditional mulled apple cider recipe is easier to drink - especially on sunnier occasions such as this long weekend before the cooler weather starts.
Why not give it a try and let us know what you think?
Mulled Scrumpy Cider
1 bottle of Scrumpy cider
¾ cinnamon quill
2 whole cloves
¼ tsp fresh nutmeg
1 vanilla pod
2 tbsp honey
Combine all ingredients including the juice and some rind of the orange
Stir over a gentle heat for 10 to 15 minutes
Strain and decant into a jug or flash
Sit back, relax and enjoy - it’s that simple!
If you’re looking for a mulled wine recipe that packs a punch, this recipe by True North Kitchen should satisfy your needs.
1 bottle of red - the best wine for mulled wine is a full-bodied, fruity red
1-2 shots of aquavit or vodka, brandy or rum
2 whole cloves
1 cup of brown sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
Several cardamom pods
½ fresh ginger
Peel the orange, cut it in half and squeeze the juice into a medium saucepan
Add the brown sugar, sliced ginger and the rest of the spices - no need to overdo the spices, a little goes a long way
Pour in the wine and stir over a low heat
Do not boil the mulled wine, heat slowly to avoid burning off the alcohol
Bring to a simmer then turn off the heat
Cover the mix and leave it to sit for a while - 2 hours at room temperature is perfect
Strain and add a shot or two of hard liqueur
Garnish with a cinnamon stick
Hot wine and mulled cider are easy to make and even easier to drink. Have a favourite recipe you’d like to share with us? Leave a comment below.