Last year, my wife and I spent the holidays in Munich, Germany. For her, the highlight of the trip was a little station in one of the ancient city gates that sold warm mulled wine and chocolate covered fruit. We probably spent a solid six hours there just sipping wine, hanging out, and enjoying the ambiance. This year we’re staying local, but I wanted to try and recreate that mulled wine… with a small twist.
Mulled wine is a traditional preparation for red wine that includes spices (“mulling spices” as they are referred to) and is served warm. Similarly, this version we’ve created includes a lot of the same spices, but some of the flavor also comes from the bourbon that we’re including in this recipe.
Since the holiday season often means parties, this recipe is designed to be made en masse, as a large punch bowl that can be shared with friends. So we’re going to give proportions, not quantities. You can make as little or as much as you like!
Also, the candied / sugared ginger is slightly important and not a garnish. The sugar from the ginger will sweeten the drink and balance out the dry red wine while adding a little ginger zing.
- 1 part red wine (something drier is better, if you can. We opted for a lower-end Bordeaux)
- 1 part bourbon (best with fruity notes)
- 1/2 part cranberry juice
- 1/2 part orange juice
- Ground nutmeg
- Cinnamon sticks
- Sugared ginger
Using a single serving, for reference: I would recommend 1 1/4 ounces each of wine and bourbon, 3/4 ounce of each cranberry and orange juice. For the spices, a single serving would be 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, and two to three pieces of candied ginger. All of this can be adjusted to personal taste, though – mulled wine is a drink that easily lends itself to making your own family version.
Add all of the ingredients to an appropriate sized pot and heat until it begins steaming. Do not boil. The sugar from the candied ginger should dissolve in the liquid and add some sweetness, and the ginger should add some flavor while it’s steeping.
Once the drink is steaming, keep it there for a couple minutes to let the ginger flavor infuse into the liquid.
For drinking immediately, strain into a glass and discard the now-soggy candied ginger, but leave the cinnamon sticks. If you’d like, garnish with a new dry slice of ginger. Other festive garnishes include rosemary sprigs and orange (both dried and fresh work great).
For use as a punch, remove the ginger from the pan and keep warm. A great option for keeping this warm during a party is a slow-cooker.
Cheers and happy holidays to all!