Stories from the Barn
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Mulled Wine The Winter Warmer
Mulled wine the Winter warmer from Rome.
Advent Calendar 8
When the Roman armies marched across northern Europe they carried with them great quantities of wine. Used to the warmth of Italian sunshine the cold bleak weather of the northern lands froze them to their core. So they made mulled wine. They concocted a mixture of wine and warming spices to keep the cold at bay. The word mulled means heated and spiced.
Mulled wine has no definite recipe but frequently has warming spices such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, peppercorns or mace. The warming beverage these days, also includes orange slices and sugar, although in times past honey was used as the sweetener.
Historically, the wine chosen would be a port or claret but any good red wine will do. The smells of all the spices, orange and sweet wine is lovely and welcoming. Maybe this Christmas it will be the perfect accompaniment to share out of doors. The glass can get very hot so mugs with a handle can make it easier to handle.
Ale and cider can also be mulled with spices and warmed ale was served in Medieval times to give warmth to the body and help protect against disease.
Charles Dickens and the Smoking Bishop.
Charles Dickens wrote about mulled wine in his story ‘A Christmas Carol’.
“A Merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon over a bowl of smoking bishop, Bob!
Smoking Bishop was made from port and red wine, sugar, citrus fruit and spices. The Victorians quite often cooked their citrus fruit with sugar until it caramelized. A syrup was then made from a little of the wine, sugar and spices. This let all the spices infuse at a high temperature and then the rest of the alcohol was added.
Most people have their own recipe for making mulled wine, a Winter warmer for everyone to enjoy. If you know someone who loves the countryside heart and soul, consider buying them a Country Ways Book Box for Christmas.