If you don’t yet mull wine, I won’t judge. I will offer encouragement by pointing out that it is never too late to start.
If you don’t like mulled wine, that is no problem whatsoever. I will happily drink yours.
There are recipes for mulled wine, but like most recipes for things you can actively control the seasoning of from start to finish, I find them superfluous. So unless you are trying to make someone’s ultra-specific, cultural, rite-associated mulled wine just do this:
- Pour into a cold, non-reactive, heavy bottom pot the volume of (mediocre, don’t mull the good stuff) red wine you think you (+/- friends) will drink and then about a third more since some will boil off.
- Add your favorite whole spices, but start with a gentle hand. You can always add more, but you can’t remove them. I favor cider mulling traditions: 1/2 (or less) a citrus or other acid fruit studded w/a few whole cloves, and cinnamon stick. Whole allspice, star anise, a cardamom pod, or freshly grated nutmeg all add great notes, but I like to keep it simple. Taste your wine. Smell the spices. Pick 1-3 things that you think complement the wine’s un-mulled flavor.
- Heat over an excruciatingly low burner, stirring occasionally.
- When warm taste it for sweetness. Add sugar, honey, agave syrup, or fruit juice to taste (start slow -like a tablespoon at a time- and work your way up)
- Heat until steaming.
- Serve in mugs to keep the hands toasty and the aroma in the nose. Optimally, any remaining servings will go in a carafe to stay warm (rather than continuing to reduce on the stove). If you don’t have a carafe leave it on the stove on the lowest flame/setting possible. Just don’t forget about it (= burning, sticky, mess).
- Optional: many other things are good in mulled wine. As w/ Sangria a little bit of whole fruit or fruit juice that complements the wine (plum, blackberry, cherry) is a lot of fun . Brandy, rum or flavored liqueurs (think Kirsh) can also expand your flavor profile. Use sparingly like 1/2 C brandy to 4 C wine sort of thing. Less on the liqueurs.
Muck about until you find your own favorite version. Enjoy responsibly. Some of the alcohol cooks off but by no means all of it.
P.S. If you need an example, The Haven had mulled wine last winter. It was the joy of my heart. Try theirs. Get inspired.