Mulled wine has been popular for hundreds of years, imbibed not only on festive occasions but also because of its healthful ingredients. The inclusion of egg yolks in the hot, spiced drink seems to have disappeared by the nineteenth century, as that ingredient is rarely found in later recipes. When using this eighteenth-century recipe from Elizabeth Raffald, take care in combining the yolks with the hot wine and in pouring the mixture back and forth between two saucepans; this will quickly stop the egg yolks from cooking as well as aerate the thickened drink. Raffald recommended pouring the wine “several times till it looks fine and bright.” When correctly prepared, the mixture will indeed appear smooth and velvety.
Over the years, some cooks have suggested buying special pans for making mulled wine. Isabella Beeton, writing more than eighty years after Raffald, recommended the use of “small tin warmers” that could be “purchased for a trifle,” noting they were “more suitable than saucepans.”
This hot, rich wine is delicious served on its own. It can also be served, as Raffald recommended, in the traditional manner—in chocolate cups (small mugs) with “dry toast cut in long narrow pieces.”
This recipe is a modern adaptation of the 18th-century original. It was created by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump for the book Dining with the Washingtons.
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 cups dry red wine, divided
About 1 cup sugar, plus more as needed
6 large egg yolks
Dry toast strips for serving (optional)
1. Stir the nutmeg into 3 cups of the wine. Add the sugar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat as soon as the mixture boils. Taste the sweetened wine and add more sugar, if desired.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks until they are thick and lemon-colored. Mix in the remaining 1 cup of wine. Slowly add the egg mixture to the hot, spiced wine, stirring constantly to prevent the egg yolks from curdling. When the mixture is well combined, pour it back and forth between two saucepans to cool it quickly and incorporate some air.
3. Heat the mulled wine over low heat, stirring constantly until it is hot and begins to thicken. Make sure the wine remains just below a simmer to prevent the egg yolks from curdling. As soon as it thickens, pour it back and forth between two saucepans several times to cool it quickly and incorporate some air.
4. Serve the mulled wine immediately in mugs or heatproof glasses, accompanied by toast strips, if desired.
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts
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