From the rich colour to the heady scents of cinnamon and cloves, nothing quite hits the spot at Christmas like mulled wine.
People have been warming wine and flavouring it with spices since the Ancient Greeks, who believed it had health-giving properties.
Back in the 2nd century, the Romans used to drink heated wine in a bid to keep out the cold and mulled wine was popular in the Middle Ages as a way of disguising wine of poor quality. The added spices improved the sweetness and made it taste better.
Mulled wine is even mentioned in that iconic festive tale, A Christmas Carol where Charles Dickens has a reformed Scrooge making Smoking Bishop for Bob Cratchit and his family.
Today, it’s a popular part of our Christmas tradition and ideal for any sort of festive gathering.
Mulled wine is found across the world. In Germany, it’s known as glühwein and often sold at Christmas markets.
In Nordic countries, glögg can be alcoholic, made from red wine, vodka, akvavit, rum or brandy, or there is also a non-alcoholic version using fruit juice.
There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to making mulled wine. It’s still a great way to cover up cheap wine and, indeed, there is little point in using one of your best bottles.
Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, star anise, ginger and fennel seeds are commonly used spices, along with orange, and lemon.
These are mixed together and added to a saucepan of red wine. Add some caster sugar and warm without boiling for about 10 minutes. Take off the heat and leave to stand before straining and serving in heat-proof glasses.
Alternatively, an easier method is to use a ready-made bag of mulling spices. Pour the wine into a large pan, add one of these ‘teabags’ and heat gently.
Variations on the traditional red wine version are mulled cider or apple juice.