Senses of the Spirit of the Season
The tradition of spicing wine with fruit and herbs is an ancient one. Pine resin, figs, coriander, and sage were added to wine for medicinal purposes in Egypt, while Romans added cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, honey, and saffron to improve the taste. Today, spiced wine by any other name is just as sweet, and whether you call it gluhwein, glogg, muddled, spiced, or mulled, red wine with seasonal additions is something special to be savored.
Our rule of thumb is simply adding fresh, local produce and complimentary spices. In warmer months, nothing goes down like a cool glass of sangria, but in fall and winter, we like to keep spiced wine ever-simmering on the stove to infuse the air with notes of citrus and cinnamon. Perhaps the spirit of the season is the smell of the season. What could top the power of earthy scents and cycles to draw us all together.
When it comes to following a recipe for gluhwein, think of it more as a general guideline, and don’t be afraid to experiment and supplement with your favorite or foraged ingredients. In Nordic recipes, blanched almonds and raisins are added to the mix. The sky’s the limit, but here’s a place to start:
1 bottle red wine (dry, fruity)
1-2 Navel oranges (we always get ours from Rainwater Ranch) - use both zest and juice
¼ cup honey (our favorite is PURE Honey from Henry’s Bullfrog Bees)
Here in Northern California, we also include sliced persimmons, scored kumquats, and pommegranate seeds
Spices (add these to taste, according to your preferences):
Whole black peppercorns
Whole star anise
Cinnamon sticks (plus more for garnish if you’d like)
...If you need additional warmth, add ¼ cup of brandy or rum.
Add it all together and heat until your concoction is barely simmering. Be careful not to let it reach a full simmer. Allow it to warm for at least 20 minutes, but feel free to keep it on the stove for a few hours to achieve maximum smell saturation. Strain and serve!