With its spicy aroma wafting through the aisles of Christmas markets, mulled wine immerses us in the holiday spirit. Delve into the history and secrets of this uniquely spiced beverage.
A Tradition Dating Back 2000 Years
Wine, honey, dates, and spices… Does this kind of mixture remind you of something? Yes, indeed, ‘mulled wine’ – boiled back in the day – is not a recent invention! The Romans called it ‘conditum paradoxum’.
It would then take until the Middle Ages for the idea to resurface in a form very similar to what we know today. Honey gave way to sugar. As for the spices, they were brought back from distant explorations. Cloves, cinnamon, followed by cardamom and ginger entered the composition of the drink. This drink was primarily considered a medicine back then. Rich in vitamins, organic acids, minerals, and yeasts, it indeed had interesting health benefits and helped strengthen the immune system.
Gradually, it even became a fashionable beverage in Europe, especially at the courts of Scandinavian kings. For instance, in Sweden with King Gustav I. Then, starting from 1600, it became a democratized drink! Glögg (heated wine) was gradually adopted by the general population, eventually becoming a must-have during Christmas festivities in the early 20th century. In Scandinavia, but also in France, where Christmas markets abound.
The Recipe for a Good Mulled Wine
Wine, oranges, brown sugar, spices… the recipe has changed little since the Middle Ages. But be careful with the cooking: unlike what the Romans did, mulled wine should never boil, or it will become bitter!
The best choice is a round and fruity wine, like a Merlot or a Gamay. Tannic wines, in fact, don’t blend as well with the other ingredients.
However, like with any tradition, each region adds its own specificity: white wine instead of red – Riesling or Pinot – in Alsace, apples and citrus in Bulgaria, or even a dash of strong alcohol – vodka, aquavit, or brandy – in Sweden. And, of course, the children’s version of ‘mulled wine,’ made with grapes and brown sugar.
A Gift Idea
If you want to infuse a little taste of the holidays into your shop, suggest the idea of mulled wine to your customers! You can, for example, organize a tasting and invite them to make their own beverage to impress their guests during the holidays. A nicely decorated basket containing the recipe and all the necessary ingredients can help them with this or serve as a lovely gift for family or friends…