Mulled wine, also known as glühwein, is a great favourite for cold winter nights and family gatherings that occur around the festive season. The word 'mulled' simply means heated and spiced, and many liquids can be mulled. As well as wine, these include mead (honey wine) and cider. Thus, in many parts of Britain there is a tradition to drink from the wassail bowl, which contains a similar recipe made with warm ale. The word 'wassail' originated with the Danes, and in Saxon times the original form of this word was 'waes hail', and meant 'be in good health'.
It is most convenient to make mulled wine in a slow cooker as the temperature can be easily controlled and the wine kept hot for some time after making. However, if a slow cooker is not available, then just follow the same recipe but heat the wine gently in a saucepan, taking care not to allow it to reach boiling point.
The following recipe is sufficient for 12 generous servings.
- 2 bottles of cheap1 red wine '(plonk')
- 2 lemons
- 1 orange
- 100g demerara sugar
- 4 cloves
- Pinch2 of cinnamon
- Pinch of powdered ginger
- 1 dried torn bayleaf*
- 2 tablespoons of Cointreau or brandy.
Pre-heat the slow cooker on high as you prepare the ingredients. Pour the wine into the cooker. Cut thin slivers of rind from one lemon and squeeze the juice directly into the wine. Also add the rind. Cut the orange in half, stud one half with cloves and float it on the wine. Retain the other half of the orange for later. Add the herbs and spices and continue to heat on high for an hour.
Add the sugar with stirring until it has dissolved, then turn to low.
To serve, remove the lemon rind and orange half and stir in the Cointreau or brandy. Slice the remaining lemon and orange and float on top of the mulled wine.
If using a slow cooker, this may now be left switched on, or switched off and taken to the table. In this instance leave the removable pot in the outer casing as this will act as a layer of insulation to keep the wine as hot as possible for as long as possible. Mulled wine should be served in napkin-wrapped glasses (goblets or tumblers). Jonnie Craddock, in his book Wine For Today,* says,
"...and pray remember to insert a silver spoon in each before pouring, lest you crack the glasses and thereby lose the contents..."
Finally, add a spiral of lemon zest to each glass.