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Mulling over Mulled White Wine
By Contentious Character News29 June Mulling over Mulled White Wine
The Ancient Greeks weren’t really the type of people to leave extra wine on the table. But there was always a part of the harvest that didn’t make it. To prevent waste (and to make sure as much alcohol as possible was palatable) the Greeks would dump spices into the wine and heat it up.
Always the Greek copycat, the Romans heated their extra wine with spices to save waste too.
At Contentious Character most of our leftover wine goes into the cooking pot or to top up our barrels. Other scraps go to the chooks.
Mulled wine really took off in the Middle Ages. The added spices were believed to make people healthier and tasted much better as well. The selection of wine wasn’t so great back then, after all, and it’s not like people could drink the water. People had to deal with the Black Death too, so they surely needed a drink anyway.
The common perception of mulled wine today comes from Victorian England. Despite their prudish outlook on life, mulled wine was a fine and dandy holiday season drink (in moderation of course).
Remember the first time you tried mulled wine as a child? The assault on your young taste buds was so violent, you spat it out on the church floor. Mum yelled at you for desecration and for not having “swallowed out of respect and politeness”. Nowadays, you swallow. (Get your mind out of the gutter, please.)
Don’t be alarmed by the notion European children grow up with mulled wine. While most Australians condemn European parents for feeding their children… shudder… alcohol, it’s actually fairly normal in Europe to expose your 12+ year old to beer and wine. Within limits, of course. And with parental supervision at all times.
Mulled wine is fairly harmless. Some alcohol in the wine might evaporate during cooking but mostly the robust flavours of spices and full-bodied wine remain.
At Contentious Character we never boil our mulled wine for this very reason. Not only will it destroy the alcohol (and we wouldn’t want that would we?) but also the delicate flavoured volatile compounds in the wine.
At Contentious Character we make a white mulled wine as well as a red. A white mulled wine has the flavourful depth of the classic red version but is lighter in body.
Choose a white that's not too acidic, such as Viognier or oaked Chardonnay (more astringent wines can develop a harsh edge when heated).Contentious Character’s older Chardonnays lend themselves beautifully to mulled wine. The oaky, buttery and stone fruit notes marry really well with the spices. Plus the rosemary gives it a little twist!
So here’s Contentious Character’s recipe from Tom the Chef:
2 oranges + juice of 1 orange
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup of honey
Sugar to taste
Combine all ingredients except rosemary in a pot. Heat up to almost boiling then reduce heat to very low and allow to infuse for 30 minutes. Add rosemary 5 minutes prior to serving. Voila!
Ps. Mulled wine gives a man nothing... it only puts in motion what had been locked up in frost. (Samuel Johnson)