Some people ruminate, others procrastinate; me? I like to mull. And by mull, of course, I mean wine.
Called Gluhwein in Germany, or Glogg in Norway, the tradition of adding spices, and often honey, to wine dates back for centuries. In those days, mulling was used as a way to pass off some less-than-fresh vino, using the spices to cover up the taste - today we mull for the fun of it. Or, at least we do Chez Diva.
Recently, I've been using the Mulling Spice blend from Williams-Sonoma - a wonderful blend of cinnamon chips, dried orange peel, whole allspice, whole cloves, cinnamon oil and orange oil. While you could certainly make your own mix from dried spices and such, I rather like the portability of the Williams-Sonoma tin ... as we like to take our mulling show on the road! We usually mull something at my father in law's house on Christmas Eve and then again at my parents' on Christmas Day. This year was no exception.
- 1 bottle (1 liter) of good quality red wine*
- 2 tablespoons mulling spices
- 1 small orange, quartered (optional)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons agave nectar, or to taste
Pour all of the ingredients into a non-reactive sauce pan and gently simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the mixture is hot and fragrant. Do not boil, just simmer. Ladle the mulled wine through a fine mesh strainer into mugs, garnish with a slice of orange or cinnamon stick, if desired. Serve and enjoy, repeat as necessary!
*Almost any kind of wine will do, so long as its something you would ordinarily drink. Lately, we've been using Sant'Angelo Negroamaro, which I really enjoy.
Not a fan of wine? No problem, you can mull cider as well. Follow directions above, but omit the agave nectar. If you'd like to spike your cider - and, certainly, I hope you do! - feel free to use some dark rum, spiced rum, applejack brandy, Calvados, or even some vanilla vodka. Its all good and all delicious.
Hell, we've even mulled plain water in a pinch - I kid you not - and spiked the hot spiced water with brandy. Call it a toddy and no one will be the wiser. Its delicious!
A quick word about the agave nectar - I've used it place of the 1/3 to 1/2 cup of sugar that the Williams-Sonoma recipe indicates. Feel free to substitute some sugar for the agave, if that's your preference, but I would go easy - 1/2 cup sound like way too much to me. Your mileage may vary, of course. You could also choose to use some honey.
Mulled wine may be a Christmas tradition, Chez Diva, but the mulling need not end at Epiphany. In fact, I'll be mulling tonight ... a little incentive to help ease the taking down of the tree.
This is a fun and festive cold weather treat that should be enjoyed all winter long. I hope you'll try it!