Mulled wine may be the ultimate party drink. It perfumes your home and entices your visitors as they enter. It gets them to participate (they have to choose what to put in their glasses before they ladle in the hot wine) and it is not so alcohol heavy (especially after it has been simmering for awhile) that people get reeling drunk quickly, as with shots or hard liquor offerings. You could make a mulled cider the same way without the brandy to offer a non-alcoholic version but to get everyone in the holiday spirit, we serve spiced wine.
Whatever you call it – glogg, gluhwein, vin chaud or mulled wine, it is basically wine mixed with spices and sugar and some citrus fruit and heated. The recipe is easy and the ingredients are not expensive. You can choose any reasonably priced red wine – yes, even gallon jug wine, like Gallo or Carlo Rossi burgundy, will do – this is not the time to pull out your best bottle! You want fruit-forward wine – Burgundy, Merlot, Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Primitivo, Shiraz or a red blend will all work. Simmering, never boiling, is key so you don’t turn your wine into vinegar. I’ve read of people using a slow cooker to hold their mulled wine at temperature (a hot plate or a rice cooker might work, too, but please – not if it is non-stick). Since we don’t have a slow cooker, I just keep it over a very low flame on the stove.
Set out bowls of sliced oranges, blanched slivered almonds, cinnamon sticks, raisins and chopped dried apples, apricots, pineapple or crystallized ginger (or whatever add-in you like). We use ceramic mugs but paper hot cups will work fine. This recipe was shared with me by my friend and mentor, the wonderful potter and teacher James Makins, who used to serve it at his holiday sales. Not only did it make his loft smell great but it relaxed people, got them mingling and, perhaps, encouraged sales – win win. Jim said he first drank glogg in Finland in 1970, on a trip with Byron Temple, and then got a recipe for it from his dorm mother, Signe Carlestrom, at Cranbrook. Now he makes it from an amalgam of online posts and his memory. His tip was to make it in advance so it can steep, even up to a year ahead, refrigerated, of course. Jim’s recipe called for 3 gallons of Burgundy but I have reduced the recipe to accommodate the current 1.5 liter bottles and 3 liter jugs of Hearty Burgundy available and it has always been sufficient. Try it at your next winter gathering and see if it doesn’t warm up the crowd!
Simmer until fragrant:
- 3 liters burgundy (or similar) wine
- 1 cup orange juice
- 2 sliced oranges
- 1 cup sugar
- Handful of cinnamon sticks
- Handful of whole cloves
- Handful of cardamom seeds
When ready to serve, add 1-2 cups brandy (or something similar like Grand Marnier, Cognac or Cointreau) and keep warm over a low heat.
Serve with raisins, blanched almonds and your choice of add-ins.
Makes 20+ servings