If you’re feeling Shakespearean or simply want to take the frost off your fingers, a mug of mulled wine is a lovely thing to savor. But what, exactly, <i>is</i> mulled wine and how do you make it?
The term ‘mulling’ roughly means to spice, sweeten and heat. It can be done to several wintery beverages, such as mead, ale or cider, but generally refers to heated, sweetened and spiced red wine. Discard the notion that mulling was invented to cover up the taste of spoiled wine. Yes, you can make a perfectly acceptable mulled wine with even the cheapest of reds. Still, begin with at least a medium-grade red wine, please.
Okay. So now we know what mulled wine is. Now how does one go about preparing such a steaming delight? The first mulled wines were made in iron pots over open fires but hey– this is the 21st Century– there’s got to be a simpler way to mull our wine, right?
Right! Rather than bothering with hand-tied cheesecloth bundles, put that automatic coffee-maker to double duty. It will do a remarkably fine job in a fraction of the time.
First, find the wine. Any semi-decent red will do. Merlot takes mulling especially well. Next, get thee to a food co-op or other place where you can purchase herbs and spices in bulk. (While you’re at it, do yourself a big favor and throw away all those crummy little cans in your pantry and get into the habit of buying small batches of herbs and spices frequently.) Here’s a basic list of what you’ll need to mull:
* Cinnamon Sticks
* Star Anise
* Cardamom Pods
* Dried Orange Peel
* Dried Lemon Peel
* Whole Cloves
Add or subtract spices as your tastes dictate. Some like to add a sprinkle or three of Chinese Five Spice the their blend.(CFS will be one of the few bottled spices you’ll buy from now on, right?) Now prepare your coffee-maker as if you were going to make a pot of java. Pour the wine where the water goes and put a paper filter in place. For an average ten-cup maker put 3-4 pieces each of the above into the filter. If your machine is adjustable, set it to a slow drip. Otherwise, simply turn it on and wait a few minutes for the amazingly enticing aroma to waft through your entire home. Stir a few spoonsful of honey into the hot wine and pour into generous mugs. Be sure to thoroughly clean the coffee-maker as soon as you’re finished and then enjoy the flavorful fruits of your very-small efforts!