Place water, honey, fruit and zest, and spices in a pot and simmer gently for about 5 minutes to blend flavors. Reduce heat to lowest possible and add wine. Heat for about 30 minutes without boiling. This is the most important part of the process. If the wine boils it will kill the flavors and the alcohol will burn off. Watch it closely and remove from heat occasionally if necessary. Strain out the spices and then add the fruit at the end. Serve in mugs or glasses with some fruit floating on top and a garnish of cinnamon stick.
Yields: 4 to 8 servings depending on your pour
That’s really all there is to mulling, but here are a few additional tips:
Never mull in pots made of aluminum or copper. The can impart a metallic taste to your brew.
Be sure to let the wine cool down a bit before pouring into glass to avoid cracking it. If serving in a mug you can serve as hot as you like.
For those in a hurry, you can prepare mulled wine by the mug in the microwave. Cut the recipe to one fourth, mix all ingredients except fruit in a mug, microwave on high in 20 second increments until heated through and fragrant. It should take about a minute but do it in increments to avoid boiling. Strain and add fruit and garnish at end.
For those who want to mull the old fashioned way but not fuss with spice mixes, there are a variety of premixed mulling spices that you can find in many stores this time of year. Williams Sonoma makes a good one.
Scandinavian countries are partial to a variation on mulled wine called glogg, which is distinctive for several reasons. For one thing they add liquor to the mix, usually vodka but sometimes brandy or aquavit (a caraway flavored liquor from that part of the world). Glogg always includes cardamom in its spice mix, and has the interesting addition of raisins and almonds, which are served along with the drink. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but it makes for interesting holiday party conversation!
6 cardamom pods (white are preferred but green are ok)
5 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
Zest of one orange
¼ cup peeled, slivered almonds
¼ cup raisins
Place all ingredients except almonds and raisins in a pot and bring to just below boiling. Warm gently for half an hour, being careful not to boil. Strain, add almonds and raisins and serve. Some recipes insist this is better if left to steep for an hour or even overnight, then gently reheated. Some replace the vodka with brandy and caramelize the sugar in the brandy before adding to the wine mixture. Still others light the whole concoction on fire but we’re not recommending that!