A Winter Drink To Warm You Up
Wine is always a good idea, especially during the holiday season. Whether you drink it straight or mix it with other ingredients to make delicious drinks and cocktails, wine is an ingredient for a good time. We also might be biassed because we're a California wine company that's always looking for excuses to talk about ourselves and our not-quite sparkling wines.
But, the truth is, mulled wine is a must during the holiday season, and we're not just saying that because we make wine. We don't even make red wine at the moment, so clearly, this spicy red wine with brandy and citrus must be delicious if we're willing to take time to talk about it!
It's the most fragrant and festive drink to enjoy during the holiday season! Essentially, it is created by combining mulled spices with red or white wine. In a way, it might remind you of sangria, a red wine mixed drink that originated in Spain. However, mulled wine is more commonly created using red wine. Think: a fruity red wine or port because of their ability to give the final product a sweeter flavor that's not quite as full of tannins.
Mulled wine is served hot because that's what makes it so delicious! When mulled wine is created, the spices create rich, ridiculously mouth-watering aromas and flavors that only get released when heated. Without the heat, you just got a cold wine with spices like black pepper and star anise floating in it. Doesn't sound that enticing when you say it like that, right?
How did mulled wine become the popular holiday drink that it is today? Let's talk about its history! Mulled wines have been produced for thousands of years and can be traced back to second-century winemaking. It was mostly popularized through the western world by the Ancient Romans.
Romans produced the drink when they began heating their vino to warm themselves up in the frigid winters. If you think back to history, you might remember that Romans then went on to conquer most of Europe. As they conquered the world, the delicious mulled drink was shared in all of their new territories.
Through the middle ages, mulled wine continued to grow in popularity. Europeans believed that the heated wine mixed with spices was a way to promote health and avoid sickness. This technique was also used with apple ciders to create a drink called wassail.
Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, Europeans began using the mulled wine technique to make their not so good wine into a delicious drink. Thus, mulled wine began being a drink of the lower class during the Victorian era, and therefore, its popularity began to crumble. Well, it began to disintegrate everywhere in Europe except for Sweden. Still excited about the drink, the Swedish monarchy began making their own versions and creating new, delicious, spiced beverages.
While still popular in Sweden, mulled wine got another boost in popularity in the 1800s. Now referred to as 'glogg', mulled wine became popular when it became synonymous with Christmas. Merchants all over produced their own versions of the festive drinks in bottles and packaging that included Christmas and Santa Claus depictions, which is how we've started to drink it in the new world and the United States.
Now that you know a little about the history of the festive drink and we've convinced you to drink this festive and delicious drink, let's talk about how to make the drink so you can enjoy it for some easy drinking the entire holiday season!
1. Gather Your Ingredients
Here are the ingredients you'll need to create this spicy red wine drink:
Wine: You're obviously going to need a bottle of wine to create mulled wine! For a mulled wine recipe, there's no reason to splurge on a nice bottle of wine of a specific varietal. Instead, reach for a cheaper but still delicious bottle of wine like a Syrah or Grenache. Why? Because when wine is heated, which is done while creating mulled wine, you will destroy some of the wine's flavor compounds. Why waste a bottle of wine imported from France that put a dent in your wallet to kill some of the aspects that made it so delicious? Plus, mulling spices are potent and tend to drown out some of the wine's subtler dark fruit flavors and any tastes left from fermenting in oak barrels.
Lighter wines with fruit flavors like a Rioja, Cabernet Sauvignon, or a Zinfandel will probably be the best wines to use here. If we're being honest, though, almost any red blend would work, whether it's from Italy or Argentina. The acidity of the wine will likely break down while it's sitting during the process. So save that fancy pinot noir for another day!
Brandy: In addition to adding a little more alcohol to the final product, brandy adds a ton of dimension to mulled wine. While cheap brandy isn't good for many things, it is perfect for mulled wine!
Citrus: Although recipes vary when it comes to ingredients, specifically citrus ingredients, we enjoy lemon and orange. Citrus flavors not only heighten the flavors of the spices, but it also brightens them. Sure, an orange does seem like an odd addition. But, the key to making the best-spiced wine is balancing different notes of complementary flavors, and an orange flavor does just that! We also love adding lemon because it brings in a different citrusy flavor that, when combined with a red wine like a Malbec, is delicious.
Spices: Again, recipes drastically vary when it comes to what spices to use, but in general, no spice is off-limits. You can absolutely customize your spices to the wine that you choose, whether you're using a Merlot from Bordeaux or an Italian Sangiovese. We enjoyed using cloves and vanilla bean!
Sweetener: If you're into sweeter drinks, grab a sweetener to help bring up the sweetness factor. While sugar is always an option, maple syrup and honey are also great ideas too!
2. Let Your Wine "Steep" With The Spices
One of the most essential parts of creating this drink is to make sure you don't overheat the wine. Some wines are not able to withstand the heat, and others tend to crumble when heated. Alcohol starts to vaporize at 173 degrees Fahrenheit, so always stay lower than that temperature. Some suggest infusing spice with a method referred to as 'low and slow.' In other words, warm the pan with spices and add wine and liquid. Let it heat until it's warm but not too hot to touch.
When it has reached that perfect temperature, turn the heat off and let the spice steep for 20 to thirty minutes. The longer you keep the mulling spices in the liquid, the stronger the flavors. Some people even feel like they get a bit of a licorice taste from their mixtures, while others believe it brings out black currant notes from certain grape varieties.
Strain The Wine
Some mulled wine drinkers believe this is a significant step. When you put the spices in the drink, they can lead to a grainy or gritty wine. By straining the wine, you clean the texture you dislike and leads to a smoother drinking experience. We suggest using a fine mesh strainer.
Add Brandy and Sugar
This is the time where you put in your brandy and sugar.
Put It Away For A Week
Now, it's time to pour the drink into a wine bottle or decorative bottle for storing. Cork the bottle and make sure you keep it in a cool dark area for at least one week! You can make this drink six weeks in advance as long as it is stored in a cool dark place!
While we've provided you an overall glimpse at how to make this spicy Red Wine With Brandy and Citrus, our blog wouldn't be complete if we didn't share actual recipes with you so you can make it yourself!
Here are a few different recipes that we're looking forward to enjoying this holiday season!
Waves in the Kitchen Spiced Wine Recipe: This drink tastes like the holidays! A cozy and warming drink to enjoy on a cold day, the recipe shares how you can customize your spiced wine with different spices! If you're looking for some help from a sommelier, food pairings to go with a drink like this include red meat and cozy winter dishes like soups.