During the winter months and the holidays, mulled wine is a very popular drink, especially in European countries. Partly by tradition and partly because it's a warm drink that is enjoyed on cold evenings. There are many names for mulled wine including Glögg in Sweden, Vin Chaud in France, and Glühwein in Germany.
A quick check of Webster's Dictionary shows that the word 'mull' can mean to mix thoroughly, or to heat, sweeten and flavor with spices.
This is exactly why this drink is called mulled wine. It's a heated mixture that can be sweetened and flavored with spices.
Now, just like barbecue sauce, meatloaf and pizza, there are no standard recipes for mulled wine. But, there are a lot of common ingredients.
Most mulled wines start with red wine. You can find examples of white and even rosé mulled wines, but let's stick with red wine. There is no best red wine to use, but any inexpensive bottle of a full-bodied, fruity, bold and tannic wine will do. Examples might include Syrah, Malbec, Zinfandel, Grenache or Merlot. Even a red blend would work nicely.
Next, mulled wine includes spices. Often these originally included local ingredients. But today, common spices in mulled wines include clove, star anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and ginger. Even vanilla shows up in some recipes.
Next, fruit is added. Common fruits include orange, apple, figs, and raisins. You can also sweeten your mulled wine with sugar or honey.
Then, some mulled wines are given an extra kick with the addition of vodka, brandy, rum, Cognac, sherry or aquavit. Other recipes will include hard cider, Madeira wine, and even Port.
Finally, all these ingredients get mixed together and heated to about 140-150 degrees F (60-70 C). You just want to avoid boiling since that will cause the alcohol to evaporate. Serve your mulled wine in a sturdy glass meant for hot liquids, or a mug. And you'll get to enjoy a warm, comforting drink during the holidays and during those cold winter evenings. Cheers!