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Wines for Mulling

Wines for Mulling

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Mulled wine is one of life’s great joys in the middle of winter. It’s warmth, booze, and Christmas cheer all rolled into one. However, the first step is often the trickiest: what wine is both good enough and cheap/not good enough to heat and add spice to?

To get the definitive answer we headed over to Bottlerocket to get some tips from owner and mulled wine lover Tom Geniesse. His first tip is not to spend too much money on wine for mulled wine because it would be "foolish to do so." Our cheap hearts rejoice at the phrase. So how do we proceed? Geniesse’s basic advice is that "what you want is a nice, big, rich wine that doesn’t have too much tannin [or] too much bite."

In terms of specifics he starts with malbecs, which he deems "inexpensive, delicious, big, and soft." His choice is the Loca Linda, which is only $18 for a 1-liter bottle — who doesn’t love bonus wine in their bottle?

He continues to thrill the cheapest among us by uttering the words "bag in a box" (but he does couch the suggestion by noting it needs to have "the right character." So Franzia is out. Sorry). He suggests something "fruity and friendly"; his pick is Wineberry’s Chateau Moulin de la Roquille, which Geniesse touts because of it’s quality. It’s only $39, which means you’re getting less than $10 a bottle for this 3-liter bag.

If you’re hoping for something a bit fresher, he suggests the Weingut Schloss Muhlenhof. "This is from a German grape called dornfelder, which is much lighter." So if you want warmth without the heaviness, you can pick up this bottle for only $12.

His last tip goes beyond wines and suggests adding a kick to your concoction with some brandy. His choice is an inexpensive option, Bouchard’s french brandy that is only $13 a bottle. But for the liquor-loving among us Geniesse suggests experimenting with whatever your favorites are. We certainly like any scenario that adds a bit of punch to our mulling!

For more on buying your mulling wines watch the video above and break out your spices!

Easy Gluhwein Recipe (Mulled Wine)

If you are looking for an easy and authentic Gluhwein recipe, you have come to the right place!

Gluhwein is also known as mulled wine for Americans or non-Germans, so it is pretty much the same thing or very similar!

Gluhwein is a very popular holiday and Christmas drink that is all over Europe, but particularly in Austria and Germany!

When I go to Christmas markets in Europe, we always get a hot cup to enjoy while we stroll the markets. Just writing this makes me miss this aspect of European culture!

That being said, you can easily make this Gluhwein recipe right in your own home! It is super simple and pretty close to being an authentic mulled wine recipe.

Of course, I like to play up the flavors and add in different things to change up the taste depending on how I feel!

When you make mulled wine, you want to keep an open mind. Make it the authentic or traditional way first, and then play it up with flavors and spices to suit your own tastes.

The best part? You can put this Gluhwein recipe over ice for those who don’t like hot beverages. It is so simple and easy and everyone loves it!

I hope you enjoy making this easy mulled wine recipe as much as I do and that it brings much holiday cheer to your party!

How do I make mulled wine?

Easy mulled wine recipe

  • 750ml bottle of red wine
  • 1 sliced clementine
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 dried figs
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 50ml brandy
  1. Pour the red wine into a large saucepan. Add the clementine, cinnamon stick, star anise, figs, cloves and peppercorns. Heat very gently until simmering, then turn off the heat.
  2. Fish out the whole spices and peppercorns with a spoon, then stir in the brandy. Ladle into mugs or heatproof glasses to serve. You could drop in a slice of clementine to each.

Vin Brûlé

The Italian version of mulled wine is called vin brûlé, meaning "burnt wine." It's another recipe that can be customized as you see fit, though the lemon zest, orange juice, vanilla, peppercorns, and bay leaves pair wonderfully with the traditional mulling spices.

Best mulled wine to buy

If you want to cut a corner during the busy festive season, then you can always buy ready-made mulled wine. I was surprised by how palatable some of them were.

With the best, you could really taste the quality of the – usually Spanish – base wine, with fairly discrete levels of sugar and spices. Serve them in little glass cups with handles, add a bit of orange peel and nobody will know that you didn’t make it yourself.

Ableforth’s Christmas Mulled Cup

This is a really clever drink. It’s a blend of cognac, port and various fruits and spices. Yes, it’s expensive, but you only add 75ml to each bottle of table wine with some sugar to create probably the best mulled wine you’ll ever taste. Perfect every time.

Available from:

King’s Ginger liqueur

Another fancy way of cheating at mulled wine. This is a delicious sweet liqueur made with citrus fruits and ginger. Add a little of King’s Ginger with some citrus fruit and sugar to hot wine, or even better, cider, for a delicious warming drink.

Lyme Bay mulled wine

This offering is a bit different. Instead of grapes, it’s made from a blend of damson and elderberry wine – extremely English. It smells highly-spiced, with the damsons coming through strongly, but it’s quite gentle on the palate and only 5.5% ABV, a good lower-alcohol option.

Felix Solis glühwein

I’ve had some of the worst mulled wine ever in Vienna, sickeningly sweet and hardly any booze. This is much nicer, made from a decent-quality Spanish red with plenty of spice, not too sweet and a handy 12% ABV. A proper winter warmer.

Tesco mulled wine

Cinnamon and clove forward, very spicy indeed and not too sweet, this isn’t bad at all, especially for the money. Another one that’s low in alcohol at 5.5 % ABV, it really benefits from a good slug of port added to each cup.

Waitrose mulled wine

Another one made with Spanish wine and you can really taste it. Lots of fruit, just a little tannin, plus a good healthy 11% ABV. The wine leads here, with the spices and sweetness kept in the background. Mulled wine for grown-ups.

Best wines to buy to make the perfect mulled wine for Christmas 2019

Like it, love it or hate it, it simply doesn&apost feel like Christmas without the spicy and sweet aromas of a warmed wine.

The great thing about mulled wine is you can buy it with all the hard work already done for you.

Although some families will have their own special recipes passed down over the years, which will vary from household to household.

The problem with shop bought mulled wines is, you might not find a taste exactly to your liking. If you want something done properly, DIY right?

Luckily, you don&apost have to spend an arm and a leg on a bottle of red (something full bodied and fruity will do) - so you can leave that decade old Pinotage to age for a little longer.

If you&aposre thinking about brewing your own mulled wine this Christmas, we&aposve rounded up some of the best wine options below to get you started.

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Best wines for making mulled wine 2019

1. Co-op Irresistible Australian Shiraz

At £7 this Australian Shiraz is a great contender for mulling.

Shiraz&apos tend to be quite rich and full in body, which will allow them to keep some of their natural tannins once heated.

With notes of blueberries and black currants along with subtle vanilla on the palette - this fruity number will go down a treat once warmed.

Price: £7, Co Op - buy here now

2. Baron De Ley Reserva Rioja

For mulled wine, there&aposs a general rule of thumb not to use reds that already have a spicy palette. As Rioja tends to be less full in body compared to a Merlot or Shiraz - this option is one to consider.

Expect notes of coconut and toffee, with mild spices and earthy flavours.

As Rioja is less full, the spices won&apost come through too strong once warmed, so it&aposll be perfectly fine to add extra spices for your desired taste.

Price: £6.25, Morrisons - buy here now

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3. Gold Label Merlot - Case of 6

If you&aposre looking for the perfect grape variety to transform into a tasty mulled wine, Merlot will come top of the lists everytime. It&aposs full bodied, rich in colour and flavours and are full of fruity notes that will compliment all of your mulled favourites.

A case of six from Marks and Spencer&aposs is handy if you are mulling for the masses and already have your desired recipe memorised to perfection.

Price: £42, Marks and Spencer - buy here now

4. Monte Del Fra Valpolicella Classico Lena di Mezzo

The priciest wine on our list, but not by a large margin. If you&aposre looking for a wine that has it all - you&aposve just found it.

This Italian red has fruity palettes of cherries and plums, did somebody say Christmas? Subtle hints of pepper and cinnamon make this the perfect red to add other spiced flavours to.

Finally, something to toast about.

Price: £10.50, Amazon - buy here now

Christmas 2019 food and drink

5. Barefoot Merlot

Barefoot Merlot is a Californian Merlot, so falls under the &aposnew world wine&apos category. If you&aposre looking for rich and medium to full bodied wines - new worlds are great options to consider.

This Merlot has refreshing notes of blackberries and raspberries leaving a silky smooth finish on the palette.

Price: £6.89, Waitrose - buy here now

6. Monte Giove Sangiovese Merlot

An Italian red, specifically from the Chianti grape variety is a rare find and at £6.35 a bottle - there&aposs nothing not to love here.

Chianti is soft on the palette and even lighter in body. It&aposs rich in tannins so does have some body to it. If you&aposre looking for a full bodied red - this probably isn&apost the best to go for. If you&aposre looking for a mulled wine for quaffing, this is one to try.

Price: £6.35, Co Op - buy here now

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7. Squealing Pig Grenache Syrah Carignan

Source from vineyards in Languedoc, France this bottle of Squealing pig is made from a lovely blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan grapes.

If you need an aromatic full bodied red, this is pretty premium stuff. The blend of different intensity grapes will make this a charm to mull.

At £9 a bottle it isn&apost the cheapest wine on the list and you could go for a cheaper alternative. However, the grape varieties and refined taste makes the price tag completely understandable.

Price: £9.13, Amazon - buy here now

8. J.P. Chenet Cabernet Syrah

The Cabernet and Syrah grapes used to form this wine are grown in the sunniest parts of South-Western France - giving you ripe, fruity notes with light spices on the palette.

Cabernet tends o be quite a light red and not great for warming, Syrah however, is a much heavier variety that will offer some density to the overall taste.

At £6.75 this is a great option for mulling if you don&apost want a mulled wine that&aposs going to be too heavy. If you plan on adding extra alcoholic beverages and spices, J.P Chenet is one to consider.

Price: £6.75, Morrisons - buy here now

9. Lindeman&aposs Tollana Shiraz Cabernet

At a fiver a bottle you can&apost really go wrong, especially not with an Australian Shiraz.

This rich and fruity palette red has slight oak notes, which may not be the best option if you&aposre planning on adding lots of spice to it anyway.

However, if you&aposre going for a lighter and easy to quaff mulled wine, the already fruity tones of this wine will give you a nice, slow sipper.

Price: £4.50, Asda - buy here now

10. Graffigna Reserve Malbec

Malbecs are generally quite light in the red world, although you can get full bodied ones, in terms of taste it isn&apost rare to find them oaked.

If you&aposre looking at an Argentinian Malbec however, that&aposs pretty much as full bodied of a Malbec that you&aposre going to find.

This fruit forward red, has a slight oak notes with hints of pepper. The berry palette combined with ripe tannins make this a Malbec worthy of mulling.

Price: £9, Sainsburys - buy here now

11. Trivento Reserve Malbec

This Malbec from the South Western region of France is high in tannins and has notes of blackberry jam and darker fruits.

This will make a fairly good mulled wine if you don&apost want too much of a kick although if you prefer richer flavours in your pudding - you might want something a little more full.

Give cheesecake a festive makeover with a mulled wine glaze. You can do this two ways, by either adding a spoonful at a time of icing sugar and mulled wine in a bowl and mixing until you have a loose paste, or you can be creative and whizz up 180g berries, push through a sieve and combine the berry puree with 45ml mulled wine to make a glaze. We’ve done the same with our Pimm’s cheesecake recipe.

Get the recipe: Mulled wine Christmas pudding Make Christmas with an extra festive twist by soaking your fruits overnight in mulled wine before adding to the mix. It’ll make your pud extra warming and delicious!

The Best Wines to Drink This Spring (and What to Serve Them With)

Put away your winter coats (and heavy winter wines). This spring, give your at-home wine list a spring cleaning and take your pick of this fresh crop of wines that are just right for the season.

With spring right around the corner, it&aposs finally time to grab a bottle and head outdoors. These wines are some of our favorites to sip in spring, and range from crisp and light to fuller-bodied. We hope you&aposll discover new favorites to sip solo or to pair with anything from freshly grilled ribeye to vibrant salads that make the most of springtime produce.

Light Whites

There&aposs no wrong time to open a chilled light white when the weather warms up, but we especially recommend pairingਊ skin-contact white with our new staple, shrimp toast. 

2019 Elvio Cogno Anas-Cëtta Nascetta, Langhe, Italy

2019 Robert Weil Riesling Trocken, Rheingau, Germany

2019 Pazo Señorans Albariño, R໚s Baixas, Spain

2019 Domaine Sigalas, Assyrtiko, Santorini, Greece

2018 Matassa Cuvພ, Marguerite, Languedoc-Roussillon, France 

Medium-Bodied Whites

We find ourselves pairing the lightly honeyed, savory Clos Lapeyre Sec with smoked trout and a bright fennel and radish salad, or a natural Spanish chenin blanc with crispy rice salad from Night + Market in Los Angeles.

2019 Orgo Dila-O Rkatsiteli-Mtsvane, Kakheti, Georgia

2018 Clos Lapeyre Sec, Jurançon, France

2018 Nikolaihof Hefeabzug Grüner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria

2019 Alzinger Ried Mühlpoint Federspiel Grüner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria

2019 Domaine de la Taille Aux Loups Remus, Loire Valley, France 

2019 Escoda-Sanahuja Els Bassots Chenin Blanc, Catalonia, Spain 

Full-Bodied Whites

Hold that bias–𠄼hardonnay is an especially fantastic pairing for your springtime cheese and charcuterie board. 

2016 Nicolas Joly Clos de la Coulພ de Serrant, Loire Valley, France 

2016 Dario Princic Sivi Pinot, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

2020 Giant Steps Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Australia

2018 Sterling Vineyards Unoaked Chardonnay, Los Carneros, California

2018 Talbott Kali Hart Chardonnay, Monterey, California

2018 Lingua Franca Avni Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, Oregon 

2017 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Chardonnay, Santa Cruz, California

2017 Mi Sueño Chardonnay, Los Carneros, California


Light but vibrantly flavored foods like Thai-style shrimp cocktail work terrifically well with rosés.

2020 Mas de Gourgonnier Rosé, Les Baux de Provence, France

2019 Whispering Angel Rosé, Provence, France

2018 Laurent Saillard La Valse Pineau d&aposAunis Rosé, Loire Valley, France 

2019 Black Girl Magic Rosé, California

Light-Bodied Reds

2019 Birichino Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault, Lodi, California

2019 Clos du Tue-Boeuf Pineau d&aposAunis, Loire Valley, France

2018 Noëlla Morantin Mon Cher Gamay, Loire Valley, France

2019 Jean-Paul Thévenet Morgon, Beaujolais, France

2018 Fratelli Alessandria Prinsiòt Langhe Nebbiolo, Piedmont, Italy

Medium-Bodied Reds

Medium-bodied reds are arguably the ultimate shape shifter, effortlessly sidling up beside tuna croquettes, burgers, or even just a post-work drink. There&aposs something for everyone here.

2017 Tornatore Etna Rosso, Sicily, Italy

2018 Passopisciaro Passorosso, Sicily, Italy

2019 Comando G La Bruja de Rozas, Gredos, Spain

2016 Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, California 

2019 Arianna Occhipinti SP68 Rosso, Sicily, Italy

2018 Stoller Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon

2018 Raúl Pérez Ultreia Saint Jacques, Bierzo, Spain

2019 Masciarelli Trebbiano d&aposAbruzzo, Italy

Full-Bodied Reds

Pair a peppery cold-climate syrah with our cover star lamb chops, or an older Napa cabernet with rib eye. 

2017 Ferraton Père & Fils La Matinière, Crozes-Hermitage, France

2017 Domaine des Tourelles Red, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

2019 Zuccardi Concreto Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina 

2018 Catena Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina

2017 Mullineux Syrah, Swartland, South Africa

2016 Buty Rediviva of the Stones, Walla Walla, Washington

2019 Aslina Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch, South Africa

2017 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California

1977 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California

2019 Bedrock Old Vine Zinfandel, Sonoma, California

2018 Piedrasassi PS Syrah, Santa Barbara County, California

2019 The Prisoner Red Blend, Napa Valley, California 

Sparkling Wines

Bubbles are perfect at cutting through the acid in clam and mussel conserva, or for enjoying alongside spicy cashew lemongrass snack mix. 

Multi-Vintage Nyetimber Classic Cuvພ, West Sussex and Hampshire, England

NV Champagne Vouette et Sorbພ Fidèle, Champagne, France

NV Champagne Drappier Carte d&aposOr Brut, Champagne, France

NV Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco, Italy 

NV Champagne Larmandier-Bernier Rosé de Saignພ, Champagne, France 

NV Champagne A.R. LeNoble Rosé Terroirs Chouilly-Bisseuil, Champagne, France 

2019 Agnès et René Mosse Moussamoussettes, Loire Valley, France

How to Make the Best Mulled Wine

Follow the foolproof recipe below, and your mulled wine will turn out perfectly every time. Here are some key tips:

1) Choose your wine carefully.

Use an affordable bottle of Merlot, Zinfandel or Garnacha. You’ll find more wine details in the ingredients section below.

2) Heat gently.

Resist the urge to crank up the heat on your mulled wine! If your wine is steaming, it’s hot enough. Wine is delicate. Heat it too long or too high, and eventually your wine will taste too spicy, syrupy and almost raisin-like, and the alcohol will evaporate over time.

3) Go easy on the spices.

You might be surprised by how few spices we’re adding, but they are potent. Upon first sip, you might think, “This doesn’t taste spicy enough,” but I promise you’ll change your mind by your second glass.

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Welcome to Ask a Somm, a column in which experts from across the country answer questions about wine. In this edition, Jared Weinstock (of Venice, California’s Dudley Market, where he seeks out wine from producers who keep the environment in mind), considers a holiday classic, mulled wine: I'm going to make a mulled wine at some point for this holidays, but what is the best kind of wine to use for that?

If you are going to make a classic mulled wine, I would recommend something that has relatively high alcohol, lots of fruit, and relatively high tannins. Wines like a California Zinfandel, some Grenache, Merlot, or Touriga Nacional from Dão would be good bets. These sturdier wines can withstand a bit of heat without some aromatics or too much alcohol becoming volatile and burning off, and can really compliment some of the spiced flavors (clove, star anise, cinnamon) without the wine becoming drowned out by spice.

Some wines I would recommend for mulled wine would be Broc Cellars Vinestarr Zinfandel from Sonoma County because of its juiciness, Habit Red, a Bordeaux Blend, because it carries these well integrated cinnamon and sweet wood notes that could benefit the spices added to the wine. I would also recommend Quinta do Escudial from Dão, a juicy wine with firm grape tannins and lots of dark-fruit character. I would also consider wines from Inkwell Wines out of Mclaren Vale, Australia. Mulled wines need wine with a fruit-forward nature, so lots of warmer climate reds would do well.

Mulled wines have been produced for thousands of years, being mostly popularized through the western world by the Ancient Romans. People have been making it with local ingredients in uniquely traditional ways, and so there is no true "best" wine for the job. I would experiment. Adding rustic apple and pear ciders (a little brettanomyces never hurts), oxidized wines like a blended Madeira (particularly from the Bual grape or Tinto Negramoll if you are using citrus seasonings), tawny port, or even a vin doux naturel like Banyuls would be a fun and interesting experiment.

Some guidelines and tips for mulling your own wine

Never over heat the wine. There are some wines that should be able to withstand a bit of heat, and others that just crumble when heated up. I would recommend infusing the spices with a “low-and-slow” method. Warm a pan with the spices (possibly even lightly toast the spices) and add the wine or liquid. Let it heat until it’s warm and almost too hot to touch. Alcohol starts to vaporize at 173 degrees Fahrenheit, so you want to keep the temperature well below that. Turn the pot off and let the spices steep for 20 to 30 minutes. I like to finish with an orange wedge (and maybe a splash of brandy).

As far as the specific ingredients, you can really make it your own. A classic mulled wine for me consists of a cheap, extracted and full red wine, clove, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, a touch of honey, brandy, and an orange slice to garnish when served. You can throw in cardamom, lemon zest, chamomile flowers, apple or pear, or even ginger.

Another twist on mulled wine is to experiment with things like bay leaf, sage, or tea infusions (black tea, chai) or even hibiscus and fruit infusions like peach and late season stone fruit, bramble fruits (think warm sangria) etc.

If you don’t want all of the spices floating in your drink, you can sachet the spices by tying them inside of a cheesecloth, much like a large teabag.

Do I want to just go for the cheap stuff since I'll be heating it?

If you’re making mulled wine, you shouldn’t completely care about the quality of the wine. All of the subtle notes in wine will be overshadowed by the intense spices and sweetness you add, so again, don't buy a Burgundy premier cru or a Trousseau from Jura or even a Chinon. Sure, you should buy a cheap wine that is somewhat palatable, but purchasing really quality wine for mulled wine is a huge waste of money. Why? Because you are most likely making mulled wine in batch (you’ll need bottles and bottles), you are usually drinking and serving to many people, (as in a holiday party, etc), and you should already have consumed quality beverages before, such as tasty Champagne.


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