What I look forward to every autumn and winter is mulled wine, specifically mulled white wine. That and roasted chestnuts. There are vendors with roasted chestnuts at every corner and the best mulled wine at the stands in the city center. There’s just something so special and festive about going out in the freezing cold to have a cup of mulled wine on the street. It doesn’t really sound too exciting, but I think it is. We haven’t done it yet this year, but December is just around the corner, and we’ll all be drinking wine when it comes. I really hope Rok and I find the time to share a glass, or should I say a plastic cup, with friends too.
Oh, I love December. But it is a crazy month for me and Rok. Because for us, it’s more than just a holiday month, more than saying goodbye to the old year and saying hello to the new. It’s our birthday month. This is what our December looks like: we kick off the month with St. Nicholas festivities (for a lot of people this involves giving small gifts, baking cookies, etc.), that is followed by my birthday, then we go into Christmas mode with the tree, the shopping, the cooking, then it’s Rok’s birthday and to end the month with a bang we celebrate the New Year.
Is this crazy, or what? I’m sometimes happy we get to do it all in one month, but on the other hand it’s very hectic and in some ways the festivities take away from the specialness of our birthdays, but we still try to make every moment special.
What will keep me sane is mulled wine. As mentioned before, I love going to the street stands, try everyone’s wine and pick a favorite. I don’t however order it in bars or cafés. I’ve never had good mulled wine there. I don’t think they pay enough attention to it, whereas the vendors do it everyday all day and it definitely shows in the quality. So, if you’ve never had it, I suggest you test street vendors first.
But making it at home is that much more special and the smell of the spices really brings out the holiday cheer. And mulled white wine is so easy to make. I just throw everything in the pot and that’s it. And the best thing about homemade wine is that I can really adjust it too my taste. Do I want more sugar, is it too strong, does it need more cinnamon? A lot of questions and I have all the answers.
Apart from a few Merlot drinking evenings, I only drink white wine (when the occasion calls for it) so that is my only choice when making mulled wine. But I don’t have a rule for the exact type of wine. This time I picked Pinot Grigio (Quercus, from a Slovenian winery), whose aroma is reminiscent of pear, grapefruit, pineapple and cinnamon. All of that paired with lots of oranges and spices, some sugar, gives a really lovely result.
- 750 ml (1 bottle) white wine
- juice of 1 orange
- 1 orange, sliced (leave 2 slices for garnish)
- 8 tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 5-6 cloves
- 4-5 star anise
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- In a pot, over medium-high heat, combine all the ingredients and bring to a simmer.
- Lower the heat, let wine slightly simmer for about 20 minutes, then remove from heat.
- Serve warm.
Oranges aren't a must. You can use lemons, mandarins, or even chopped apples. Or you can skip the fruit completely. I love oranges though and they give the wine a nice color too.
If you are skeptic about the spices, you can only use half of what I have; or add another bottle of wine.
Boiling the wine for a few minutes takes off the edge and makes it less alcoholic, so that is something you can try too.
You can store mulled wine in the fridge overnight, but I prefer to drink it on the day it's made. Before storing it, remove all the spices and fruit. Reheat it on the stove before serving.