Spiced Warm Wine, a Longtime Tradition

Mulled wine is a custom that dates back thousands of years and is traditionally savored during the Halloween and Christmas holidays.


Mulled wine is a custom that dates back thousands of years and is traditionally savored during the Halloween and Christmas holidays. Popular in Germany, the tasty beverage, called Gluhwein, can be traced back to 1420. But some historians think the Romans may have enjoyed mulled wine for a thousand years before that.

So what is mulled wine? Essentially, it is wine, typically red, that has been warmed, spiced, and sometimes sweetened in a nonreactive pot, such as a crock pot. Although it's often thought of as a holiday beverage, mulled wine is also a nice alternative for sipping during cold baseball and football games (though we do love our chilled Michigan microbrews, too!).

To make the toasty liquid treat, we suggest starting with a dry red wine, such as a Merlot or Cabernet, and adding orange zest, cinnamon sticks, vanilla, and cloves. Warm your ingredients and bring to a simmer for about 20 minutes. Keep it warm and enjoy with a fresh cinnamon stick.

As an alternative to dry red wine, Heather Price of Sandhill Crane Vineyards in Jackson suggests semisweet or sweet red wine. She also recommends the winery's Night of the Living Red, a specialty wine blended with spices, or warming up the winery's Heirloom Apple wine and Apple Mead. Both are warmed and ready for tasting at the Dexter Cider Mill, also home to Sandhill Crane Vineyards' seasonal tasting room. All wines are available for tasting and purchase at the cider mill. Handy spice packages are also available.

When adding your own spices, Price recommends using less than you may think you need. "It's a lot easier to add more (spices) if it's not strong enough than to deal with flavors that are too intense. Be especially light-handed with cloves – they can get bitter if you use too much or if they're left in the wine too long." She says that while you can toss spices directly into the wine, you may also use a tea ball or make a sack with cheesecloth and string so you don't have to scoop out the spices later.

Another spiced wine is Witches Brew, produced by Leelanau Wine Cellars of Omena. Witches Brew is a red wine blended with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and other spices. The wine is reasonably priced and readily found in grocery stores throughout Michigan. Just heat it up and serve!

Lorri Hathaway and Sharon Kegerreis are authors of the award-winning From the Vine: Exploring Michigan Wineries and The History of Michigan Wines. Learn more and get autographed books at deliciousmichigan.com.
Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Something Old, Something New at the 2018 Michigan Wine Competition

Michigan Wine Competition shakes up rules, adds new category

The Sentimental History of One of Leelanau Peninsula’s Newest Wineries

A matriarch’s memory drives Amoritas Vineyards

Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival Makes its Move

Crowds drive event’s switch to larger grounds

Michigan Wine, Remixed

Local wines come to downtown Detroit in rebooted annual event

To Market, to Market

Michigan Wine & Cider Festival at Eastern Market May 24
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Review: Testa Barra Wows with Contemporary Dishes
    The Macomb Township restaurant serves Italian fare that is on par with the surging Detroit food...
  2. Michigan-Made, Mother Nature-Approved Tools for Your Kitchen
    Ditch disposables and opt for reusable products
  3. A Deeper Look into the Racial and Ethnic Tensions Dividing Metro Detroit
    From the city to the suburbs, existing segregation could be hindering the region’s progress
  4. Exploring Metro Detroit’s Tiki Trend
    Mutiny Bar and Lost River serve up island vacations with every drink
  5. 3 Eateries that Focus on People, Profit, and the Planet
    These triple bottom line businesses are part of Detroit’s FoodLab organization
  6. A Look at the Inexplicable Exclusion of Detroit Tigers’ Lou Whitaker from the Baseball Hall of Fame
    Writer Michael Betzhold investigates the Major League slip-up
  7. Q&A: Nancy Barr, Curator of Photography at the Detroit Institute of Arts
    Plus, information about the DIA’s upcoming exhibit, Lost & Found
  8. This Vegan Catering Company Celebrates the ‘Natural Beauty of Food’
    Plus, tips on how to create your own photo-worthy grazing board
  9. Meet the Makers: Salt Textile Studios
    This textile maker wants her creations to be unique to ‘here’
  10. Your Guide to Environmentally Friendly Organizations in Metro Detroit
    These 10 local businesses are paving the way for a healthier and happier planet