National Mulled Wine Day….and what is that anyway?

It’s Cold Outside but Not in Here

You’ve probably heard of Mulled Wine not knowing what it really is.

This may end up being a rare short version. I hope you don’t mind when I go back to the longer version for future ones.

Mulled wine is a European version using spices and a sweetener, sugar or honey, and is served hot, Traditionally, it is served during Christmas or Halloween.

Our sub-zero temperatures yesterday and today are another good reason to have this delicious hot drink by the fireplace.

Spicing wine is first recorded in Rome in the 2nd Century. The Romans heated wine to defend themselves against the cold. As they conquered across Europe, the popularity of heated wine grew.

The English added spices to promote health and avoid sickness. Herbs and flowers were the sweetener.

Using spice to mask the taste of any unpleasant smell from food or drink became habit.

The Forme of Cury is a Medieval English cooking book from 1390. It states that wine is spiced by grinding together cinnamon, ginger, galangal, cloves, long pepper, nutmeg, marjoram, cardamom and grains of paradise, and mixed with sugar. The Forme of Cury’s authors are listed as the chief Master Cooks of King Richard II. The original is printed on scroll. Would you believe you can purchase this cookbook for $14.00 on Amazon?

Any of these spices will do but cinnamon, cloves, a sweetener and the zest of a citrus fruit are a good base.

Glühwein, roughly translated as “glow-wine”, from the hot irons once used for mulling, is popular in Germany and in Alsace, France. In German markets, it is common to see people with piping hot mugs of Glühwein as they browse.

Across Europe, it became known as glogg. Do I dare make the obvious pun that this is my Glogg Blog. Sorry, I couldn’t help it.

In Quebec, some will mix red wine with maple syrup and hard liquor then heat it. They call it the Caribou and is popular during Quebec Winter Carnival.

Whatever variations you use, simmer about an hour. It won’t be as potent, unless you add a spirit. After cooking, the alcohol content drops to about 12-15%. Be careful not to let it boil, otherwise the alcohol will evaporate. We certainly don’t want that!

MMMMulled Goodness

Since I have German heritage, I used the following recipe for traditional Glühwein as a guideline. It’s a great way to use previously opened wine since the quality of the wine makes no difference to the end result.

However, I used a red wine and a rose coloured Zinfandel, mixed them with water, lemon, honey, cloves and cinnamon. I didn’t have the anise or cardamom. The taste was divine! Other options are bay leaves, long pepper (they look similar to an unripened pine cone), nutmeg, ginger and grains of paradise (from the ginger family). Even black currant can be added. The jar of Mulling Spice shown in the picture above contains the anise, grains of paradise. Experiment with what you have in your cupboard!


• 750ml dry red wine, nothing fancy

• 100ml water

• 3-4 tbsp sugar, depending on taste

• Half a lemon, sliced

• 3 cloves

• 3 cardamom pods

• 1 star anise

• 1 cinnamon stick

Throw it all into a saucepan on high heat for a minute, then reduce before it boils. Simmer 1-2 hours. Allow to cool a few minutes before straining into mugs or bottles.

Makes 800 ml

It’s not a common drink in Ottawa which is why I am not including too many related hotspots. I think I’ll try one of these tonight after work:

Das Lokal – 190 Dalhousie St. Every last Sunday of the month, they feature live music.

Bier Markt – 156 Sparks St. The link will take you to their events page with a huge list of what goes on weekly. Live music begins about 10-10:30pm.

Central Bierhaus – Kanata Centrum Shopping Centre. They have big screen tv’s, a giant cuckoo clock and tons of different beers.

Check your local spice sections for Mulling Spice if you want to try it at home.


Please Drink Responsibly

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