Making Mulled Wine From Scratch
Mulled Wine with Bourbon or Brandy
The first time I was presented with the idea of drinking hot red wine, I was appalled. Am I alone in that sentiment?
I have a rule, though—if I have the opportunity to try a new culinary delight or libation, I have to seize that opportunity. So when my sister returned from a trip to Germany many years ago and made her new favorite beverage for us, of course, I tried it—and loved it!
As it turns out, red wine simmered in beautifully fragrant mulling spices is a spectacular winter beverage. It’s no wonder why it is an incredibly popular drink throughout Europe!
That first mulled wine I tried was made with merlot, which lends a delicate, sweet, and berry-eske flavor to the drink. Because I am adding apples and oranges to my mulled wine and didn’t want to go overboard with the fruitiness, I opted for a cabernet sauvignon, which is much more robust, with a deeper, less-sweet flavor. It works incredibly well with the mulling spices.
Note: on occasion, I will add a few vanilla beans (split to release seeds) to this drink and when I do, I always use a merlot.
How to make mulled wine
- 1 750 ml bottle of cabernet sauvignon
- fresh-squeezed juice of 3 clementines, about ½ cup (reserve spent fruit)
- 1 apple, sliced
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 Ceylon cinnamon quills, broken into pieces
- 15 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
- 2 star anise
- 4 cardamom pods, smashed
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- Bourbon or brandy
- Orange twist and cinnamon quills for serving
- Pour the wine into a mid-sized saucepan and add in the orange juice and bodies of the spent fruit, apple, cider vinegar, cinnamon quills, cloves, nutmeg, star anise, and cardamom pods.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Let simmer for at least 20 minutes.
- In the final few minutes, stir in the maple syrup.
- Pull from the burner and strain through a fine sieve to remove bits and pieces of spices or leave them in there and try to avoid them when pouring into a cup. Alternatively, you can keep the ingredients in a sachet made of cheesecloth and leave in for further infusion.
- Add about 2 ounces of brandy or bourbon to your cup, if desired.
- Garnish with cinnamon quills and a citrus twist.
Serve warm. For large parties, you can keep it warm in a crockpot with a ladle for self-serving, leaving the bourbon and brandy on the side for the guests to add themselves.
Want to take your mulled wine to a new level? Throw in a bit of mace blade.