In the “spirit” of investigative journalism I took it upon myself as a duty, during these recent cold nights we’ve been having, to learn about mulled wines around the world. The internet has been helpful, of course, but there’s nothing quite like experience, is there?
There are some very informative blog posts on the topic, such as this one sharing a family recipe for glühwein (Glow Wine! I love that) at “Dreaming of Winter” and this beautifully illustrated description of the Scandinavian version, Glögg (I also love that), which I haven’t tried but sounds altogether fruiter, spicier and more alcoholic. Yum.
In other places on the web, newspaper articles describe variants of mulled (heated) wine from around the world, while many cultures feature creative ways to heat and spice one’s alcohol, according to wikipedia. Some additions to the warm beverage that pique my professional interest include honey or maple syrup, amaretto or rum. As a journalist, I think it’s essential that I pursue these lines of enquiry quite seriously and I will.
For now I would like to report upon two variations that I have put to the test in the last week. Firstly, a pre-prepared powder which I purchased from Guwurzhaus, one of my favourite sources of “travel at home” inspiration (it’s a sort of emporium of foody concoctions from everywhere; brilliant on the nose). Secondly, a thrown-in-the-pot collection of spices and things I had around the house: this amounted to sugar, black peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves and the rinds of orange, lemon and a Tahitian lime. Yes, I really had a Tahitian lime lying around: it’s the smaller and rounder of the two yellow fruit above (I’ll buy an ugly fruit if you give it an exotic name).
So which was superior, in my professional and scientific opinion? I really don’t know. They were both aromatic, warming and delightful.
As a result of my experiments, here are my tips to help you create The Best Mulled Wine in the World:
- Choose a cheap wine that is not your favourite, but don’t stress about the varietal. I am very lucky to live in a wine-growing region and so I was able to source and experiment with a local Shiraz and a Cabernet Sauvignon, both of which were quite nice without the extra spice and really delicious with it.
- Put a lid on your pot as you allow your chosen fruit and spice blends to infuse. This is a trap for newbies: I let a great deal of mine evaporate away before I realised!
- Don’t take any notice of any recipe that suggests you boil the ingredients for an hour or two. Your wine simply needs to be warmed for a while to infuse the flavours. If you’d like to ensure the flavours are imparted let time, as much as heat, do the job and let it all sit overnight.
- Be aware that alcohol is easily evaporated and if this is important to you, perhaps begin by infusing your fruits and spices into sugar and water and adding the bulk of the wine at the end, simply to warm it.
- Experiment with different warm beverage flavours: I recently indulged in hot buttered rum and I once enjoyed some white wine heated with asian flavours. I would also love to try some beer and some non-alcoholic cider variations, all in the name of research of course.
Thus concludes my important cultural report about delicious winter beverages from around the world, and certainly I’ve taken one for the team in compiling it. But honestly, I think a topic such as this is too vital to conclude in haste. Further research is required and I’ll happily take on the task.
I’m also sure there are other researchers out there who have essential contributions to make to this field… Please do by commenting below (I’d love to hear about your best winter warmer drinks!)