A history of mulled wine

Mulled wine is a well-known traditional winter warmer, made from a spice mixture and red wine. Mulled wine is served warm, and can be both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. But when did people start to drink it?


A history of mulled wine

Mulled wine is said to have been invented by the Greek father of medicine, Hippocrates, who made it as a tonic. The wine was originally white or red, and was mulled with honey and spices. During the 2nd century, the Romans heated wine to keep their health in check for the cold winter months. As the Romans invaded Europe, the trend for mulled wine grew, as did the Roman Empire.

Its demand kept on growing during the Middle Ages, where people would blend warm wine with spices, as this concoction was said to ward off illnesses. Natural sweeteners such as flowers were added to aid the flavour of the wine.

A famous 17th century recipe was made by Elizabeth Raffald in The Experienced English Housekeeper, which contained eggs, nutmeg, wine and sugar, and was served in chocolate cups with dry toast.


The changing demand

The demand for mulled wine slowly started to decline across most of Europe, with the exception of Sweden where its demand soared. The Swedes hatched their own mulled wine recipes, creating Lutendrank (milk, spices and wine) and Claret (sugar, spices, honey and Rhen wine). During the end of 19th century, glögg rose in popularity, with everyone having their own take on the recipes. The wine soon began to be sold in Father Christmas-labelled bottles throughout Europe.

The later centuries also saw mulled wine become a worldwide wonder, with hundreds of countries coming up with their own variations which still exist today, such as: sangria, red and white wines and port.  For instance, in Hungary, Amaretto is added in for an extra punch; honey and peppercorns are added in Bulgaria; and in Quebec, Canada, maple syrup is mixed in with spirits.

As it stands today, there isn’t a particular British recipe for mulled wine, although common ingredients are nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, orange, lemon, cardamom and fennel seed. The spices are then blended together and heated in a sugary syrup before the red wine is added. The mulled wine is then ready to be served in a mug, and can be garnished with an orange slice.

In the mood for wine? Have a look at our divine Winter Warmer hamper that contains the warming Lanchester Mulled Wine with a selection of delicious festive delights.

Image by Sea Wave / Shutterstock.com

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