A Mug of Mulled: Nett, όμορφη, Nice

by Brian The Timeless Winer
Mulled wine.


I had been meaning to re-stack our firewood to make it more accessible (for when My Own True Love needed the snap and crackle of something besides my knees).  And, as the weather was suitably windy and cold, decided this is the day.  The job completed (helped by my fluent ‘french’ regarding the weather), I headed inside. After changing clothes and putting on some Band-Aids (wood, you know) I was thinking about how to get rid of the chill and was it worth the effort to start a fire (stupid question).

The fire got started and I spied the Port (Oh My!  Who’s your daddy, little lady?!) Snatching my favorite Big Boy Port glass, I headed back to the fire.  On my way, I spotted the iron kettle we use for potpourri with the assorted spices and, bang! just like that, I got it.  Spiced Wine.


mulled wine


What is the scoop?  What, when, where and (most importantly), how?

Grab your hat and join me as I journey into the great, greasy, green Internet stream in search of the answers to these questions while avoiding the Bogs of Porn (where fevers have ravaged many a hapless explorer leaving only a withered husk).  Onward, faithful scouts, to where libraries of information (all 100% true and accurate. Mostly) await the empty mind.

So.  Mulled Wine, Gluhwein, Glogg, the list of names is quite lengthy but, what are we talking about here?  Hot or warm, spiced and sugared, it is ALWAYS wine.  The name depends on where you are: Mulled Wine is English, Gluhwein is German and Glogg is from the Nordic countries.  These are the three I’m going to talk about.

The first recording of spiced and heated wine is in the 2nd century and involves those visitors who don’t know when to leave, the Romans. Apparently, for the longest time, nobody but the Romans could grow grapes for wine, and of course, it wasn’t until the Legions started boxing everyone on the ears that wine got exported. Nobody fights like a boozed up Legionnaire with a raging hangover.

So anyway, there they are in Germania and damned if it doesn’t get a little chilly in the Frozen North.  Lose the skirts; break out the long pants and wool socks.  SOMEbody remembered mom making warm wine and tossing in some spices when it got cold in downtown Pisa and, with a tear in their eye, tried mom’s recipe.  ‘Hey now’, says Legionnaire SkippyO. ‘I’m feeling warm in and out. Let’s go visit the neighbors and wreck their stuff!’

Roman wine was an adventure in drinking, the likes of which we won’t (please, oh please) have to experience again.  Most of their wines had to be in the kegs for 5 to 15 years as I understand.  Tap one of those a little early, say year 3, and you were ready for some beer.

The recipes for spiced wine were varied and used everything from honey to raisins to pepper.  Nasty tasting wine or just looking for a little variety?  Nobody knows anymore.  But they did tip-off the rest of the world to spiced wine.


Gluehwein, christmas market


So okay, here we are in Germany. Romans are gone and now there isn’t much to do except wait for 1914 to roll around.  Still cold here so let’s toss the inner man a bone.  Hot spiced wine is called ‘Gluhwein’ which means something like ‘glow wine’.  They used to use glowing hot pokers to heat the wine, so they say.  Or, maybe it’s just from that rosy-cheeked-look they get from sucking down a quart or two every night.

Gluwein is usually prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star aniseed, citrus, sugar and, at times, vanilla pods.  Pretty tasty stuff and guaranteed to keep you planted by the fire.

Since we’re Germans let’s go to the Scandinavian countries for a ‘visit’.  Cold here too, what do you suppose they have to take the edge off?  Why, they have Glogg.  The main ingredients for Glogg are red wine, sugar and spices like cinnamon, cardamom ginger, cloves and bitter orange.  Being of sturdy Viking stock, occasionally stronger spirits such as vodka, aquavit and/or brandy get added.

Mulled Wine


Now on to the United Kingdom and let’s try the Mulled Wine.  It’s very popular and traditional at Christmas.  The recipe has changed with the times so there is nothing specific for mulled wine and the spices involved. It is commonly a combination of orange, lemon, cinnamon, nutmeg, fennel seed (or star anise), cloves, cardamom, and ginger.  Often the spices are combined, boiled in sugar syrup before the red wine is added.

So there you have it, a whirlwind trip to making Mulled Wine.  Nasty and cold out?  Well, get back in the house.  What’s the matter with you?  Warm up and give a pot of hot, spiced wine a try. In fact, Elizabeth, you know, My Own True Love, has a simple, yet delicious recipe just waiting to be made – click here.

I told you we were going to the Internet to get this info.  Also, a stroll down memory lane from my days in Europe.  Like always, think Ripley’s. Get it?


And now, my personal rant:

Free The Grapes

Free the Grape!





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