We've got Christmas time upon and it's time to get those lovely smells in the city, in the bars and in the house. Mulled wine is usually made with red wine diluted with water, sweetened with sugar, flavoured with such spices as cloves and cinnamon, and served hot. But where it came from and how it became so popular?
According to legends mulled wine was created by the Romans in the 2nd century, because they would heat wine to defend their bodies against the cold winter. As the Romans conquered much of Europe throughout the next century, their love for mulled wine spread across their empire and the regions they traded with.
In fact spiced wine was consumed as far back as Ancient Egypt (3000 BCE) when it was considered to have medicinal properties.
Then Greeks in order to prevent waste and to make sure as much alcohol as possible was palatable, would dump spices into the wine and heat it up. One story is that the Greeks called their spiced wine “hippocras,” which was named after Hippocrates.
Later Romans added a twist and called their wine 'Conditum Paradoxum'. The 5th or 6th century Roman cookbook by Apicius details out the recipe Meadcrafter writes. The recipe was a mixture of one part wine and one part honey that was boiled and then reduced, added to the mix was pepper, bay leaf, saffron and dates.
A collection of 14th-century recipes, originally written down on a scroll describes mulled wine too, and explains how cinnamon, ginger, galangal, cloves, pepper, nutmeg, marjoram and cardamom must be ground together to form the basis of the mulled wine spices. The recipe also states the addition of another mystical ingredient called ‘grains of paradise’ aka rosemary.
Over time, the craze for mulled wine faded across most of Europe and nowadays it's a staple of every Christmas Market all over the continent and a great thing to drink to stay warm.
And how to make mulled wine at home? First of all you need 2 bottles of excellent red wine, three oranges, two lemons, a piece of ginger, some cloves, cardamom pods, nutmeg, a stick of cinnamon, hundred grams of sugar, a spoonful of honey and a half litre of water. Peeel and cut into pieces the lemon and and the orange. Pour the wine into a large saucepan. Add the fruits, the spices and the honey, heat very gently until simmering, then turn off the heat. Ladle into mugs or heatproof glasses to serve.