March 3 is National Mulled Wine day, and I could think of no better day for it. The days are long and dark in March while we all long for spring. Any little sign of buds or citron green soft stems poking through the still-frozen soil is a beacon of hope for warmer, brighter days ahead.
But, in the meantime we have recipes that bring sweet, simple pleasures of the dark days of winter. A few more long-simmered braises in the dutch oven and the sweet scent of a pot of homemade mulled wine simmering on the stove.
You can make the most of March's lingering dreary weather. Read on for two warming recipes: mulled red wine and mulled white wine.
The warmth of wine and spices
It wasn’t until a November day in London that I really experienced the pleasure of a warm cup of mulled wine. My husband and I were wandering through the very crowded and cold streets of the market when I saw a handwritten sign proclaiming the sale of mulled wine up ahead. I raced in that direction and got myself a cup excited to realize that in London it was perfectly acceptable to wander the market with warm wine in hand.
That cup made the long line for Raclette (a melted Swiss cheese served with roasted potatoes) much more pleasant. Since that day we’ve enjoyed many more glasses of the spiced wine at home.
Mulled wine is the perfect way to repurpose that less-than-fresh bottle of wine you opened a few days ago. With a bit of sweetness by way of sugar, honey or liqueur, and warming spices, there is no longer a trace of the wine turning. What remains is a comforting, sweetly scented glass of wine that is a perfect way to end a cold winter day.
It is rare that I follow a recipe for mulled wine. Instead, I recommend you try using whatever sweet spices you have on hand, often cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and star anise, with a bit of sweetness and a little bit of orange zest if I have it. Sometimes I’ll add in Brandy or Cognac if I’m feeling fancy.
Basic Mulled Wine
This is a great recipe for a very basic mulled wine. Add to it what you have and what your preferences are.
Adapted from Give Me Some Oven
- 3 whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 (750 ml) bottle red wine
- 1 orange, sliced
- 1/4 cup brandy (optional)
- 1/4 cup honey or sugar
Combine the cloves, cinnamon sticks, and star anise in a non-aluminum saucepan. Toast the spices for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant over medium-low heat.
Add the nutmeg, wine, orange, brandy and honey or sugar and bring to a simmer over heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer for at least 15 minutes.
Strain, and serve warm.
If white wine is your preference then you may enjoy this Mulled White Wine recipe.
Mulled white wine
Adapted from The Guardian
- 2 cardamom pods, smashed
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 star anise
- 750ml white wine
- 1 orange slice
- 2 tbsp honey, or more to taste
- 1 small slice fresh ginger
- 75ml apple brandy (Calvados), optional
In a small nonreactive sauce pan add the cinnamon sticks, star anise and cardamom pods. Toast for 2 to 3 minutes over medium-low heat. When you can smell the spices add the wine, sweetener and orange slice. Simmer for twenty minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the brandy, if using, and serve right away.