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Mulled wine is a traditional winter drink in various European cultures. While there are many recipes and regional variants, it generally consists of wine mixed with spices and served hot. Originally, preparing mulled wine was a way to extend the life of a wine that had passed its prime, but the beverage has come to be associated with winter holidays and celebrations, particularly Christmas.
One of the most well-known varieties of mulled wine, served in many Scandinavian countries, is glogg. As with spiced wines in general, glogg has many variants. Pre-blended versions are available, ready to heat and serve, but many holiday merrymakers prefer to mix their own.
Most countries make mulled wine with a red wine base, but some, such as Romania, may also use white wine. Mulled wine is rarely, if ever, made with expensive wine, as the spices would overpower its flavor. A fruity, rustic red is considered the best choice. Spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, cardamom, and nutmeg make for a great traditional flavor.
Sometimes, stronger spirits are added to mulled wine. Alternatively, the addition of a juice such as orange juice can make the drink more like a punch. Tea, sugar, water, and honey are other popular but optional ingredients. Garnishes can include sliced fruit, especially lemons and oranges, cinnamon sticks, and candy canes. Basically, the cook has a lot of options and can create his or her own signature recipe.
Mulled wine must be heated before serving, but if it boils, the alcohol will burn off. Sometimes this is done deliberately in order to produce a non-alcoholic version, but more often, mulled wine is heated only to between 140 and 158 degrees Fahrenheit (60 or 70 degrees Celsius). A non-alcoholic version of glogg can also be made by replacing the wine with fruit juice.
In a pinch and need some ingredients you'll find around the house to make some mulled wine? Some dandy, quicky mulled wine can be made by just mixing wine with cinnamon and nutmeg and heating the mixture. Throw in some orange slices and a bit of allspice if you have them and you're in business.
Avoid cloves, though -- those can overpower everything else.