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Mulled wine

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Mulled wine, variations of which are popular around the world, is wine, usually red, combined with spices and typically served warm. Nowadays, it is a traditional drink during winter, especially around Christmas.

Left: Making mulled wine.

Glühwein is the type of mulled wine popular in German-speaking countries and the region of Alsace in France. It is usually prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, cloves, citrus and sugar. Fruit wines such as blueberry wine and cherry wine are rarely used instead of grape wine in Germany. Glühwein is drunk pure or "mit Schuss", which means there is rum or liqueur added. The French name is vin chaud (hot wine).

Glögg is the term for mulled wine in the Nordic countries. The main classic ingredients are (usually) red wine, sugar or syrup, spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves and bitter orange, and optionally also stronger spirits such as vodka, akvavit or brandy. In Sweden, glögg spice extract can be purchased at the chemist.

To prepare glögg, spices and/or spice extract are mixed into the wine, which is then heated to 60-70 Celsius (140-158 Fahrenheit). The temperature should not be allowed to rise above 78.4 Celsius (173.12 Fahrenheit) in order to avoid evaporation of the alcohol. When preparing home-made glögg using spices, the hot mixture is allowed to infuse for at least an hour, often longer, and then reheated before serving. In Sweden ready-made wine glögg is normally sold ready to heat and serve and not in concentrate or extract form. Glögg is generally served with raisins, blanched almonds and gingerbread, and is a popular hot drink during the Christmas season.

Glögg recipes vary widely; variations with white wine or sweet wines such as Madeira, or spirits such as brandy are also popular. Glögg can also be made alcohol-free by replacing the wine with fruit or berry juices (often blackcurrant) or by boiling the glögg for a few minutes to evaporate the alcohol.

A traditional recipe of British mulled wine can be found in Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management at paragraph 1961 on page 929 to 930 of the revised edition dated 1869:

TO MULL WINE.

INGREDIENTS.- To every pint of wine allow 1 large cupful of water, sugar and spice to taste.

Mode.-In making preparations like the above, it is very difficult to give the exact proportions of ingredients like sugar and spice, as what quantity might suit one person would be to another quite distasteful. Boil the spice in the water until the flavour is extracted, then add the wine and sugar, and bring the whole to the boiling-point, then serve with strips of crisp dry toast, or with biscuits. The spices usually used for mulled wine are cloves, grated nutmeg, and cinnamon or mace. Any kind of wine may be mulled, but port and claret are those usually selected for the purpose; and the latter requires a very large proportion of sugar. The vessel that the wine is boiled in must be delicately cleaned, and should be kept exclusively for the purpose. Small tin warmers may be purchased for a trifle, which are more suitable than saucepans, as, if the latter are not scrupulously clean, they spoil the wine, by imparting to it a very disagreeable flavour. These warmers should be used for no other purpose.

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