THE WRITER’S KITCHENNETTE MULLED WINE
BY PANCHAMEE HEWAVISSENTI
Christmas is one of the most celebrated festivals in the world and is associated with the lofty tradition of food and drink. Wine is an integral part of Christmas celebrations around the world and mulled wines make seasonal celebrations hearty. Homemade mulled wine is a perfect way to warm-up this season of merriment and feasting.
Mulled wine is a type of alcoholic beverage made of red wine with varieties of mulling spices and raisins and served warm.
The spices that are used vary according to the region. Cinnamon, cloves, anise, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom and vanilla are commonly used in making mulled wines. Aside from the spices mentioned, some recipes include the addition of ingredients such as bitter orange, apple, fig, ginger and raisins.
Mulled wines are generally alcoholic but alcohol-free mulled wines can also be prepared for inclusive celebrations so that teetotallers will not feel excluded from the celebrations. Making alcohol-free mulled wines is a simple process and fruit juices have to be added in place of wine. There is another method of making non-alcoholic mulled wine by boiling the wine mixture until the alcohol gets fully evaporated. The non-alcoholic version of mulled wine is generally referred to as mulled Cider or Wassail.
In making mulled wines, spices and other additives are added to the red wine and simmered for the infusion of ingredients. Then the mixture is strained and can be served warm right after the preparation. Refrigeration of the gently boiled wine with the ingredients makes the spices combine and infused to bring out the flavours of the wine. As mulled wines are consumed warm, the refrigerated wine should be re-heated before serving. Mulled wines are not generally stored and consumed immediately after the preparation. The maximum time that it is recommended to be kept in the refrigerator is 24 hours.
The tradition of Mulled Wines
Mulled wines are a popular tradition in the chilly Christmas season due to the warming qualities of this merry drink. Aside from how you serve the drink (warm) the drink itself warms up the body due to its alcoholic content. Moreover, the spices that are used in making mulled wine such as clove, cinnamon and ginger are also hot in nature, making the drink perfect in cold climate. Mulled wines are served with spiced cookies, homemade ginger crackers, pickled fish, baked brie and mince pies etc.
They are commonly served in ceramic, porcelain or glass mugs as the drink is served hot. Special mulled wine glasses can also be found in the market if you would like to shop for wine glasses this Christmas season.
The history of Mulled Wines
Mulled wines were discovered by Romans in 2nd century in order to protect their bodies from the excessive cold of the winter season. They boiled wine to consume it warm and added spices to internally warm up the body. With the conquering of Europe, the mulled wine recipe spread as the Romans expanded their territory. As the mulled wine became increasingly popular, different additives and ingredients were added and different flavours were created. In order to boost the medicinal value of the drink, some have added various herbs and flowers with medicinal properties.
With more additions to the original recipe of mulled wine invented by Romans, many recipe books too included the various ways of preparing mulled wines. The name 'Glogg' was given to mulled wine and first mentioned in recipe books in 1600s.
Glogg became a festive drink during the celebration of Christmas in 18th century and since then, it has evolved in taste and fashion, it remains a most sought after variety of wine to this day.
Ingredients needed to make Mulled Wine
Red wine - one bottle (750ml)
Apple Cider - 750 ml
Organic bee honey with comb - 50ml
Vanilla bean -1 cut vertically
Star anise - 5Nutmeg- 1tsp
Cardamom pods - 2
Cloves - 1 tsp
Cinnamon sticks - 5
Brandy - 50ml
Lemon, sliced - 1
Lime, sliced - 1
Add wine, apple cider and organic bee honey in an earthen pot and heat over a medium heat. You can add sugar instead of bee honey and add more bee honey if you prefer a sweater taste.
Use of an earthen pot may add a different flavour to the mulled wine. However, if you prefer you can use an aluminium sauce pan but make sure to reserve that pan exclusively to make mulled wine.
Roast cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean, star anise, nutmeg and cloves in a small sauce pan over a medium heat for five minutes. Toss the spices with a wooden ladle while roasting. Then add the roasted spices into the wine and mildly let it simmer for about half hour.
When heating the wine, you should take extra care not to allow the wine to evaporate. Bring the wine mixture barely to a simmer till you can see small bubbles forming along the edge of the pot. If the wine is evaporated, it will lose the alcohol texture in it and the drink will become a Cider. Stir the mixture occasionally to dissolves the organic bee honey. When the wine is steamed and when the aroma of spices begins to emanate, take the pot off the flame. Let the mixture cool and keep refrigerated for an hour.
Take the refrigerated wine mixture out bring to room temperature. Re-heat the wine mixture and make sure not to bring it to boil.
When it is ready to serve, strain a required amount from the pot into a mulled wine mug and add brandy and the sliced fruits of your preference such as apple, orange and raisins. The remaining mulled wine can be left in the pot and can be heated up when required.
Garnishing of Mulled Wine
Mulled wines emanate a fantastic aroma when served hot due to the infusion of aromatic spices into the wine and the decoration will add glamour to the magical drink. You can place a long cinnamon stick vertically or drop a slice of orange or star anise in the hot mulled wine to garnish. You can also take a slice of orange and insert cloves in it and place the slice on top of the warm wine. Enjoy a mug of traditional aromatic mulled wine with spicy flavours to spice up your chilly evenings this Christmas season!
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