With temperatures dipping down into the single digits most nights, we've found it hard to go more than an hour or so without a warm mug of tea between our hands. But on nights when we really want to up the cosiness factor, there’s only one thing for it—mulled wine.
Mulled wine (sometimes referred to as glühwein) is heated red wine that has been spiced and sweetened. Its origins can be traced back to Europe as early as the 2nd century BC. Widely consumed throughout winter in the Northern hemisphere—particularly around Christmas time— this warming, comforting wine cocktail is the perfect antidote to the winter blues.
Around this time of year, cellar door patrons often ask which varieties are best suited to making mulled wine. While almost any red wine will work—there are some wines that are more suitable than others.
We recommend staying away from lighter reds like Pinot Noir as they don’t have sufficient body to balance the sugar and spice that will later be infused. There’s no need to splurge when it comes to purchasing a wine for mulling—in fact, a modestly priced wine is all that’s needed. Likewise, there’s no use cracking open an aged wine with lots of delicate, subtle aromas. Not only will the spices overpower the wine’s carefully developed flavour profile, but the heating process may cause all those beautiful notes to completely evaporate! Save those special bottles in your cellar to be enjoyed unadulterated.
When choosing a wine for mulling—go for something medium-full bodied with a strong fruity base. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to grapes, but varieties like Merlot, Grenache, Tempranillo, and Touriga will certainly fit the bill. Read on for our take on a classic mulled wine—but don’t shy away from experimenting with different spices and fruits to take your mulled wine to the next level. Or for an extra kick you can add a little bit of brandy, or even a spiced rum or whiskey. Have fun with it, there's no wrong way to enjoy!