Mulled wine is a traditional holiday drink with roots throughout the colder countries in Europe from glogg in Sweden and gluhwein in Germany, to vin chaud in France.
The origins for mulling wine are based more in practical matters than festive and romantic holiday traditions. Once upon a time, wine was not something to be collected and aged in cellars. It was an everyday product that was meant to be consumed soon after it was bottled. Less than perfect bottling methods meant that wine, which was traditionally bottled after harvest in the early fall, had started to reach its best by date by mid-winter. Spices were added to postpone spoilage and to improve the taste. Hence, the consumption of mulled wine became a mid-winter, holiday tradition. We now drink mulled wine for tastier reasons. Plus it makes everything fragrantly festive!
The exact combination of spices change from country to country, but mulled wine generally starts with a red wine base —like Merlot, Cabernet, or Beaujolais — and adds cinnamon, cloves, star anise, juniper, ginger, citrus or cardamom. Think seasonal, warming spices and citrus for brightness. It’s kind of like a warmed winter sangria.
This year at PRINT. we are doing a version of glogg. It is mulled with the usual citrus and spices (cinnamon, cloves, star anise) but what makes it Swedish is you add lots of cardamom pods in the mix along with raisins and blanched almonds. This was a big part of my family tradition growing up in Michigan. To make it a bit more potent, and to really warm you up, we top it off with a splash of vodka.
We are topping ours with an Elderberry infused vodka that we started infusing back in August, which will lend a woodsy and fruity note. We are also adding a splash of the Industry Standard Technical Reserve that has been steeped with more spices and citrus zest. (For that recipe click here.)
1 750 ml bottle of ruby port
2 750 ml bottles of light and fruity red wine (Merlot, Shiraz, Beaujolais)
1 cup light or dark brown sugar
8 cardamom pods
3 star anise pods
3 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup blanched almonds
1 large orange cut into slices (or use 3 small mandarins)
1 cup vodka or other strong spirit (For extra holiday spice in your glogg, infuse the vodka with same set of spices and citrus listed above)
Heat all ingredients except for the vodka, in a large pot on the stove. Do not let it boil, just bring to simmer and keep warm. Allow the wine to mull for 30-45 minutes so flavors can develop and co-mingle. Serve in a mug with extra slice of orange and top with splash of the hard stuff!