November 26, 2021 by Arden Montgomery
Best Wine for Mulling
Hot, sweet and spicy wine is the drink of the season in my home. As soon as the weather gets cold, that’s when the cloves, cinnamon sticks and orange slices come out to begin the wintertime culinary potion making. For cozy nights by the fire, for small gatherings with my closest friends, or for bigger family gatherings, nothing says “holiday cheer” quite like a generous mugful of mulled wine.
To some of you purist oenophiles out there, the idea of cooking a bottle of Bordeaux may seem sacrilegious. And admittedly, when I’m hosting a truly tremendous gathering I tend to reach for the 3-liter cardboard to fill my Christmas cauldron. But believe me when I say, like everything else, mulled wine is that much better when you use high quality ingredients — such as delicious small-batch wine.
What is mulled wine?
Mulled wine, spicewine, Gluhwein and glogg are all terms used to describe a hot drink made principally using traditionally red wine and a collection of “mulling spices” like cinnamon, cloves, star anise and black peppercorns. Depending on your tastes, you can also add ginger, orange juice, orange zest and honey to the mix, topping it all off with a healthy pour of brandy, orange liqueur or vodka if you prefer a fortified experience.
It is a delicious wintertime drink that has many iterations all over the world, and is popular as a walk-and-sip beverage at Christmas street fairs, especially in western Europe.
Most recipes call for red wine, as heftier tannins and fuller bodies stand up to heat and strong spices better. However if you select your additives carefully, white or rose wine can be just as delicious a base. So here are a few labels from the Argaux collection that promise to make a delicious wintertime drink.
Best red wine for mulling
- 2019 Wonderland Project No. 9 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – $50
A full body with hints of dark fruits, tobacco, leather and other mature tons that will transport you immediately to Mr. Bennett’s study, this Cab Sauv is wonderfully spice-friendly and promises to be a constant companion through the winter months. We think cinnamon, orange zest, and a shot of dark rum will take this already delicious wine over the top.
- 2018 Pec & Burl ‘A Tale of Two Dudes’ Red Blend – $60
“Yeah man, we’re mulling?” the red blend seems to say. “Right on.” We imagine spicing up this rebellious young vino over a campfire and pouring it into a big, green thermos to take with us on a bundled-up beach hike. Notes of overripe blackberry and blueberry feel like scrambling through a wet bramble to get to the dunes, and a finish of chocolate and peppercorns feel like clinking travel mugs while taking in the fog. This is just the wine to keep you warm.
- 2018 Chateau des Antonins AOC Bordeaux Supérieur La Réserve du Couvent – $60
Repeat after me: it is okay to cook Bordeaux. And if you’re going to, it should be this one. A full bodied beauty with dark fruits, almonds and vanilla that will stand up to the strong flavors introduced by cloves and cranberries. For this wine, match the almond notes by making glogg — a scandinavian take on mulled wine that introduces raisins and nuts to the mix.
Best white wine for mulling
- 2019 No Name Santa Barbara County Chardonnay – $30
Chardonnays are the ideal white wine for mulling because they come practically prespiced. Demurely buttery, delightfully fruity, with a smooth but full mouthfeel, this wine wants to be mulled with fresh ginger, lemon zest, ceylon cinnamon and granny smith apple rounds.
- 2020 Von Winning Sauvignon Blanc II – $24
Make sure you pick up two bottles of this unexpected diamond — one for making mulled wine, and the other for sipping while you’re making the mulled wine. This German gem has a boldness of flavor to match the wild swirls on the label. It’s citrus-forward with an herbaceous and floral background. And those flavors yearn to be paired with the myriad spices from this white mulled wine recipe (although we recommend swapping the sugar out for honey.)
Best rose wine for mulling
- 2019 Chateau de Calavon Provence Rosé MAGNUM – $45
Grenache is the recommended red for mulling, and this Grenache/Rolle/Syrah blend is the perfect pink wine for spicing up this holiday season. Utterly summery notes of peach, watermelon and meyer lemon pair surprisingly well with the wintery spices in this mulled rose wine recipe. Pink peppercorns, pink grapefruit, and the inclusion of triple sec in your final product will elevate this wine to a whole new level. Invite us over when it’s ready, would you?
- 2019 Clos Signadore ‘A Mandria’ Patrimonio Rosé MAGNUM – $45
You might consider approaching this wine more like a sangria, including strawberries, cherries and allspice to the mix to match and elevate the notes of cherries, strawberries and allspice already on the palate. This wine is light bodied and dry, meaning it’s capable of holding itself up in the face of citrus and cinnamon inclusions. Plus, the bigger bottle means more to go around at your Christmas party.
A gift from Argaux
If you’re still looking for the perfect present for the oenophile in your life, why not get them a box full of wine?
Our gift kits promise to transport the drinker to the wine capitals of the world, like California, Champagne and Italia, while also teaching them how to taste and distinguish wines of the world. Or, if your viticultural pal is more of a homebody, grab one of our Food and Wine Pairing 101 kits to help them figure out what wines go with their favorite snacks.