Your search for the ultimate holiday party cocktail is over. Spiced wine is the perfect festive beverage to serve at your New Year’s Eve gathering, and to enjoy throughout the holiday season. This traditional drink will warm your guests through and through, and looks impressively festive. But they’ll never know that this beverage couldn’t be simpler to make.
Spiced wine has been around for centuries. Nearly every culture that drinks wine has added spices to it at some point in history. Historically, this doctoring has served a number of purposes, from supposedly increasing the wine’s medicinal value to masking the taste of the beverage gone bad.
Today, of course, we know that a few spices probably won’t make wine better for us, and we have no need to disguise the taste of rancid wine. Modern spiced or mulled wine recipes cause for the wine to be warmed with a few spices, along with additions of your choice. Here, we use orange juice and zest, but you can also add a fortifying beverage such as brandy to make your wine cocktail even more festive.
The roots of spiced wine go back as far as ancient Egypt. The Egyptians laced their wine with figs, herbs and pine resin (yum!) to create what was believed to be a medicinal brew. Spiced wine was also popular in Medieval Europe, where it helped the people get through long and terrible winters, and on top of that, was rumored to function as an aphrodisiac — cheers!
The crusades played a major role in spreading the love of spiced wine across Europe. The countries that embraced spiced wine made it their own, designing recipes that are deeply ingrained in their traditions today. In Britain, the beverage is called mulled wine and is a popular drink throughout the winter. In Germany, it’s called Glühwein. In the Nordic countries, it’s called glögg or gløgg.
Whatever you call it, spiced wine has a long history and tradition that make it a great choice for a wintertime party cocktail. There’s no strict recipe, so feel free to make tweaks to the recipe below to make a signature version of spiced wine that you can enjoy with your friends and family for years to come.
In a large pot, bring to a simmer:
1 bottle red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
3-5 cups apple cider (depending on how strong you like your spiced wine)
The juice and zest of one orange
3 tablespoons-1/3 cup honey (depending on how sweet you’d like it)
3 cinnamon sticks
A few cloves
Simmer for 30 minutes, then pour into mugs and serve.