Mulled wine has been a staple of the festive season, with aromatic spices adding a seasonal twist to the classic red wine. Oranges, cinnamon and nutmeg, along with an extra serving of Port, compose many of mulled wine’s modern recipes. For a chef’s top trick we recommend using inexpensive red wine in your mixture, but combining bottles of two varieties for extra flavour – a merlot and cabernet sauvignon combination is definitely a winning favourite.
But where did mulled wine come from?
The so-called mulling of wine originated in the 2nd century and was first crafted by the Roman Empire who would go on to conquer much of Europe. While the sharing of recipes might not be your first thought when it comes to the Roman conquest, there’s no denying this part of the Roman’s festive cheer was happily spread far and wide throughout Europe. Over the next century, mulled wine was used throughout the continent as a way to ward off colds and flu during the winter months as soldiers and the peasants alike began to heat their wine.
The mixing of herbs and spices into the wine was believed by Europeans to ward of illheath and sickness. The herbs and flowers used as natural sweeteners equally promoted good health amongst the population, arguably an early form of self care and not only to make bad wine taste a lot more palatable!
Surprisingly, it was in Sweden with promotion by the Swedish monarchy that the taste for mulled wine really took off. Sugar, honey and even milk were alternative additions to the mixture and wine merchants were even encouraged to come up with their own unique recipes each year.
Here comes 2020 though and our modern Christmas landscape would be incomplete without a glass of red wine and dried orange peel. From around the late 1890s onwards, images of Father Christmas with the festive drink cemented it into our cultural traditions, and made the yuletide drink a global phenomenon.