With the winter weather approaching and the holidays fast upon us, you may find it inviting to enjoy a cup of warm mulled wine in front of the fireplace, or perhaps with your family around the holiday table. But what is mulled wine, and where can you get it?
Mulled wine is basically just wine that’s been heated up with various spices or herbs. This recipe has been made since the 2nd century in Rome. Throughout history, the spices used to mull wine were considered expensive luxuries, and only the wealthiest and most powerful families in Europe could enjoy them, until spices became more affordable in the 17th century. Because of the warmth and earthiness of the beverage, mulled wine lends itself particularly well to cold weather, and has become especially linked with the winter holidays.
To make it easy for you to enjoy this seasonal treat, a few local wineries produce a pre-mulled wine that you can purchase. The best way to serve it is to empty the bottle into a saucepan, heat it very gently, and share it with a group of friends or family. Remember, since this is a hot beverage, a mug is a much better vessel than a wine glass.
The most famous of the Texas Hill Country wineries to produce a mulled wine is Pedernales Cellars. Every year, around October, they release their coveted Glogg. Glogg is a mulled-wine style from Sweden, dating back to the 16th century, when it was given to messengers or postmen who had traveled long distance through cold conditions, to warm them up again. The Pedernales Cellars Glogg is a fortified wine, meaning that it’s been blended with brandy, in addition to spices, to increase its alcohol content. The annual release of the Glogg is usually a popular event, and many consumers refer to it as “Christmas in a bottle.”
From time to time, other Hill Country wineries will produce a mulled wine by the bottle, and you may be able to find some bottled mulled wine in your local liquor store.
If you are looking for something more unusual, consider mead. Mead is a wine made by fermenting honey instead of grape juice. Like wine, it can be fermented to be completely dry, or sweet, or anywhere in between. Since grapes do not grow in the colder climates of Europe, mead was the drink of choice in Britain and Scandinavia until the advent of distilling introduced those countries to gin and vodka.
At Six Shooter Cellars on the 290 Wine Trail, you can find a mulled mead produced by Texas Mead Works, which has also opened up a location of their own in Hye. Their Minstrel’s Head is a mead infused with clover, orange blossom, and wildflowers. It may not be as spicy or fragrant as Glogg, but it will bring a great deal of merriment to your holiday festivities.
If, perchance, you are interested in mulling wine yourself, there are many recipes and do-it-yourself packets available online, and at some finer liquor stores. If you go with a premade packet, you simply empty a couple of bottles of wine into your saucepan, and gently heat it with the spice packets submerged in the wine, as if you’re making tea. Of course, you could always find a recipe to create your own blend of spices yourself. The key to success with any of these methods, of course, is selecting the right wine.
An excellent way to start exploring the world of mulling your own wine is to visit Texas Hills Vineyard in Johnson City. They sell a spice packet for mulling wine that is formulated to pair perfectly with their Volare dessert wine. The recipe is included. If you’re hosting a party, you may want to consider 4-6 bottles, as the spice packet is intended for larger batches. And, it will be a popular beverage once the smell of the heating wine fills your kitchen.
Good luck, and revel in this additional world of wine enjoyment.