The term “mulled” wine refers to spiced, heated wine, generally served in the winter.
But where did it come from?
The ancient Greeks and Romans would add spices to left over and lesser quality wine and then heat it up to make it more palatable. In the middle ages, when the plague was in full force, mulled wine became popular because it was believed the spices would guard against illness.
As Europe emerged from the Middle Ages, the popularity of mulled wine faded, except in Scandinavia where “glögg” would be served to warm messengers who traveled by horseback or skis during the winter. Glögg, which would include wine or clear spirits like rum, became a drink regularly consumed on Shrove Tuesday, the Scandinavian version of Mardi Gras.
In the latter half of the 1800s mulled wine, called “glüwein” in Germany, became increasingly associated with Christmas. It was mentioned in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and glögg producers started adding images of Santa Claus to their bottles.
In addition to a dry red wine, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and orange zest are among the most commonly used ingredients in mulled wine. Traditional glöggs may also include cardamom and ginger. Whether you make your own or buy pre-packed spice mixtures, mulled wines are great for holiday parties or just sipping by a fire on a snowy winter day.