Well, the holiday season is over, and 2020 is well underway. Don't be nostalgic for these moments by putting away your tree and your garlands, because even though Christmas is over, the little pleasures of this holiday season can still last through January and into the end of winter. What would you say, for example, to a good mulled wine by the fireplace or under a plaid after a good day? Did you know, by the way, that this drink, inseparable from the end of year festivities, has its origins a long time ago? So put on your hat and gloves, and discover the history of your favourite winter drink.
The origins of mulled wine
The first traces of mulled wine date back to the Roman Empire, in the year 20 AD, where it was called Conditum Paradoxum. To make it, the Romans put honey to boil in wine, then added spices (pepper, laurel, saffron), and dates. This mixture was then blended with better wine to soften the substance. Finally, the method of conservation consisted of plunging burning coals into it, a process used at the time. This drink was quite different from those we consume today, but it can be described as the ancestor of mulled wine.
In the 12th century, a drink called "spiced wine", following the same manufacturing process, was very widespread in France and Spain. Arnaud de Villeneuve, doctor and theologian of
at the time, wrote recipes for this drink in his works Tractatus de Modo and in the Regiment de Sanitat. In the 13th century, it is thanks to the spice port of Latte, located next to Montpellier, that this way of drinking wine became widespread. The fame of mulled wine was such that even the King of England at the time, Henry III, drank it at his table. It is moreover thanks to the orders of the latter that historians have been able to find the trace of the recipe of this drink. The mulled wine became popular in Germany, via Count John IV, around 1420, as well as in Sweden, where King Gustav I was fond of it.
The popularization of mulled wine at Christmas
It was not until the 1890s that the tradition of mulled wine during the Christmas period intensified, particularly in the traditional Christmas markets in Germany, where each merchant offered mulled wine of his own making, with a label design specific to each. This healthy competition between merchants created folklore within these markets and for the end of the year festivities, which only intensified the desire of the consumers and their coming to these markets.
Today, each country adds its own specialities, which gives mulled wine very diverse and original tastes.
You can for example prepare it:
- Latvian style: by adding Black Balsam, a black liqueur from Riga.
- Hungarian style: using local wine, Egri Bikaver, as well as cinnamon and cloves.
- Bulgarian style: by adding honey, apples and citrus fruits.
- Moldovan: called Izvar, the main ingredients of the drink are local red wine, pepper and honey.
- Swedish style (and more widely throughout Scandinavia): the main ingredients are red wine, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and cloves. Vodka, aquavit or brandy are also sometimes added.
- Alsatian style: Alsatian mulled wine is traditionally made from white wine, with Riesling or Pinot Blanc.
- Polish style: Piwo Grzane, as it is called there, is made from hot beer, accompanied by the traditional ingredients of mulled wine (fruit, spices).
- Brazilian style: served during the Fiesta Junina in the south of the country, it is consumed at the beginning of winter with cachaça.
- Turkish style: called S?cak Sarap, it is consumed with sugar, oranges and lemon.
Who drinks the most mulled wine?
The flagship drink of the Christmas markets, mulled wine is mainly consumed in Europe. Depending on the country, it is named differently, and consumed in greater or lesser quantities. This drink is consumed enormously in Scandinavian countries, particularly in Sweden and Denmark, where it is called Glögg and Gløgg respectively (terms meaning "mulled wine" in each language). In Germany, as in most Germanic countries, it is mainly consumed under the name Glühwein. This word comes from a derivative of the German "glühen", meaning shine, and "wein", meaning wine. In France, it used to be called "vin à la Française", and was made with cinnamon. This drink was served in many inns in the 19th century, and even crossed the Alps, where it spread throughout Italy under the name "vin brûlé" (pronounced "burnt wine" in French). The countries mentioned above make up the majority of mulled wine consumers, even though the drink has become more democratic in most European countries.
Our advice to make your own mulled wine
To make a good mulled wine, you have to pay attention to the wine you choose. Indeed, you should avoid tannic wines such as Malbec or Mourvèdre, as it will be more complicated to attenuate the raspy sensation in the mouth with sugar. The best wine to use to make mulled wine is a young red wine, fruity and round, as can be Merlot or Gamay, whose sweetness will be in adequacy with the other ingredients used. To accompany your mulled wine, Christmas cakes such as gingerbread, and shortbread will be in perfect harmony with the drink, but also with the atmosphere.
- 1.5L of red wine
- 150 g brown sugar
- An orange
- A zest of lemon and orange
- Spices: cinnamon, star anise, cloves - Grated nutmeg
Heat everything in a saucepan over low heat until it boils, then let it simmer for 5 minutes. Don't forget to filter the wine, then serve it!