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Best Red Wine For Mulled Wine

by Kristin Beck
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Best Red Wine For Mulled Wine

Best Red Wine For Mulled Wine

“Mulled wine has a long history in England dating back centuries, where it was traditionally made by boiling up spiced wine until it foamed over like beer. In America, mulled wine became popular during colonial times when colonists would celebrate Christmas Eve by drinking alcohol-free hot punch spiked with spices.
Today, mulled wine is enjoyed at holiday gatherings across the country. It’s easy to make and makes an excellent base for hearty appetizers like cheese straws or pigs in blankets. If you’re looking to get creative this year, here are some tips on what types of wine will work well with mulling and how to choose them.
What Is Mulled Wine?
Mulled wine is a sweetened alcoholic beverage typically served warm and often spiked with spices. The most common type of mulled wine involves cooking down white wine — usually dry wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay — along with sugar, citrus juices, herbs and any other flavorful ingredients one prefers. Once the liquid reaches about 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius), it’s strained out and combined with fruit juice, brandy or another spirit. The resulting mixture is then simmered until the temperature reaches around 225 degrees Fahrenheit (107 degrees Celsius).
This method works great if your goal is to enjoy a glass or two of mulled wine while lounging on the couch watching TV. But many people prefer their mulled wine to have more kick. This is where mulled wine recipes come into play. Some require adding mulling spices directly to the wine; others involve using a spice mix or infusion. Using a combination of both methods allows you to control the amount of heat in each serving without worrying about scorching yourself on the stove.
To help you narrow down your options, let’s start by taking a look at what makes good mulled wine.
Which Wines Work Best With Mulling?
There are lots of different kinds of wine to choose from when making mulled wine. While there isn’t much difference between red and white wine when used alone, combining them creates a variety of flavors and colors. Here are some things to consider before picking your favorite varietal.
Color: Darker varieties of wine generally contain more tannins than lighter ones do, and tannic wines aren’t ideal for mulling. You should also avoid wines that taste too acidic (such as merlot) because they might curdle. Choose something that’s rich but relatively neutral, such as pinot noir or cabernet sauvignon. A light red wine may not provide enough color contrast with the fruits and vegetables you plan to add later.
Body: When choosing a body, keep in mind that fuller bodied wines are better suited for mulling. They’re easier to simmer and hold together better under the heat. Also, try to pick a wine that tastes less cloyingly sweet so you won’t end up with watered down punch.
Fruitiness: Fruitier wines will pair better with spicy foods, while sweeter varieties complement desserts. Try to find a wine that matches the flavor profile of whatever food you plan to serve alongside it. Since mulled wine tends to be fairly high in alcohol content, it pairs well with liqueurs like Drambuie, Kahlua and Frangelico.
Flavor: Different wine regions produce distinctive flavors. Consider trying new countries’ wines to see what you like best. If you don’t know what kind of wine you want to drink yet, try asking someone who knows about wine for recommendations. Just remember that the flavors you like best may not match everyone else’s preferences.
If you’re ready to begin exploring your options, let’s take a look at some of the most popular red wines to use for mulling.
Merlot, Zinfandel and Other Fragrant Reds
One of the easiest ways to create a delicious mulled wine is to simply blend together fragrant red wines. As the name suggests, these tend to smell quite strong, so they’re perfect for infusing other beverages. Plus, since they’re already pretty boozy, they lend themselves well to being warmed up and served with dessert. Let’s take a look at three of the most popular red wines for mulling.
Zinfandel
Zinfandel grapes grow best in California’s Sonoma County, which is why it’s sometimes referred to as “”Sonoma Wine.”” Its bright ruby hue comes from its deep purple skin and juicy flavors include cherries, raspberries and blackberry. It’s a medium-bodied wine that provides just a hint of sweetness. Because zinfandel goes especially well with mulled wine, it’s often used in infused vinegars, sauces and even chutneys.
Garnacha
Made primarily from Garnacha grapes, this Spanish red is known for its intense fruit flavors and moderate bitterness. Although it doesn’t pack the same punch as heavy hitters like cabernet sauvignon, garnacha is still a complex wine that complements all types of foods. Its boldness lends itself particularly well to dishes that feature curry, garlic, onions and peppers.
Pinot Noir
A French wine, Pinot Noir is actually a blend of several grape varieties including pinot gris, pinot meunier, pinot blanc and pinot noir. It has a very smooth texture and earthy aroma that blends well with other flavors. And while it’s lower in acidity than some other reds, it provides just enough bite to stand up to spices and other stronger flavors.
Now that you’ve got a handle on some of the basics, let’s move onto our next topic: finding the right bottle to fit your needs.
When buying wine for mulled wine, stick to bottles labeled as jug wine. Jug wine refers to wine that’s been produced through fermentation processes rather than distillation. That means it contains higher levels of volatile acids, which evaporate easily at higher temperatures, leaving behind nothing but alcohol. Even though jugs are cheaper, they contain more sugar, which leads to a stronger final product.
Tips On Choosing Wine Bottles For Mulled Wine
Most wine bottles are designed to hold 5 liters of liquid, although you may need to buy larger or smaller sizes depending on the specific brands you’re interested in. To ensure that your bottles fit properly, check the label’s measurements against your kitchen cabinet doors. Most cabinets measure 60 inches wide by 24 inches tall, but some models vary slightly. Before purchasing bottles, look at the dimensions of your cupboards carefully and make sure you buy the exact size you need.
Once you’ve found the right size bottle, it’s time to figure out exactly what kind of wine you want to purchase. There are dozens of different types of wine to choose from, ranging from white to rose to red. Take a look at a few basic categories below.
Red
For the best results, go with a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Zinfandel. These are among the best choices for creating tasty mulled red wine. However, if you’d prefer something milder, you can always opt for a table red wine, such as Beaujolais, Marsala or Malbec.
White
If you’re planning on making mulled white wine, it’s important to select a wine that’s crisp and clean. Avoid anything that smells heavily floral or buttery. Riesling, chardonnay, gewürztraminer, reiser, fiano and viognier are some of the most popular whites to use for mulled wine.
Rose
Although roses are technically classified as pink, they’re often grouped into the category of red wines due to their similar characteristics. Like reds, rose wines are typically low in acidity and have a lot of sugar. They offer a nice balance of sweetness and tartness. Rose wines include rosé, blush, petite sirah, grenache, mourvedre, gamay and pinotage.
Serve Your Mulled Wine Correctly
So now you know everything about mulled wine. Now it’s time to put your newfound knowledge to the test. To recap, mulled wine is a sweetened, spiced alcoholic beverage typically served warm. Traditionally, it’s made by boiling down white wine until it froths over, but today’s versions are often based on a recipe.
Here are some guidelines to follow when preparing your own mulled wine.
How Long Should I Simmer My Mulled Wine?
Depending on the number of people you’re feeding, you may need to adjust the amount of wine you cook down. Start off with 2 cups per person and gradually increase the amount to 3 cups for every guest. Afterward, reduce the amount of sugar further if desired.
Should I Use Ice Cubes Or Water?
Ice cubes are a traditional way to chill mulled wine, but water does a fine job as well. Of course, ice is preferable since it melts faster and leaves behind fewer crystals.
What Kind Of Spice Mix Do I Need?
There are hundreds of different spice combinations available, so experiment with your favorites first. Popular combinations include cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and star anise”

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