How to make mulled wine: Recipes from a top chef and bartender


Two Europeans from Malaysian eateries and bars share their own recipes for Mulled Wine. – Photos: THE STAR

While there are many iterations of mulled wine, most traditional variants typically include red wine; a sweetening agent like honey, maple syrup or sugar; spices that can range the gamut from cloves, cinnamon and star anise; aromatics like ginger and often another alcoholic agent like brandy or rum. The fruity finish is often furnished courtesy of lemons or oranges, which add lovely nuanced citrus notes to the drink.

This entire assemblage is then heated together, sending out spice-riddled perfumed notes and imbuing the drink with lovely spice and fruit accents.

For example, Evert Onderbeke, the Belgian-born head chef at European eatery Soleil, a Michelin Selected restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, makes a version of his grandmother’s mulled wine recipe and his secret ingredient is Cointreau (orange-flavoured liqueur), which he adds to give his drink some fruity nuances. His version of mulled wine is delightful – spice-nuanced with a fruity, aromatic underbelly and a warmth that feels like a friendly hug.

“Some people add brandy, I like to add Cointreau because it is an orange drink, so it gives it a citrusy element and a kick. And everyone uses different spices, but I like the combination of star anise, ginger and cinnamon,” he says.

Meanwhile, Marek Klecka, a native of the Czech Republic who is also the bar manager at Gordon Ramsay Bar & Grill at Sunway Resort, uses a tried-and-tried recipe that is a staple at most Gordon Ramsay restaurants and is reflective of a truly traditional British mulled wine.

“It is very traditional English mulled wine with red wine, a bit of French cognac to give a warming after-effect, spices like cinnamon, star anise and cloves, and fresh orange juice. Most Britons will follow a recipe like this but of course people can play around with the ingredients,” he says.

Klecka’s mulled wine is robust and heart-warming with fruity undertones and a cavalcade of spices that have infused the drink with lovely holiday spirit. It’s the sort of mulled wine that feels homey and yet elegant.

Although most recipes are relatively idiot-proof and simple, there is one crucial thing to remember: when making mulled wine – never, ever let the wine reach a boiling point because this will cause the alcohol to evaporate, and the drink will simply not taste the same.

“The most important thing is not to boil the wine during preparation, otherwise you will lose the alcohol. Alcohol evaporates at 78 C otherwise, so if you boil it, it will make it a non-alcoholic drink and it won’t have the punch that it is supposed to have,” says Klecka.

TRADITIONAL ENGLISH MULLED WINE
Recipe provided by Marek Klecka, bar manager of Gordon Ramsay Bar & Grill
  • Traditional English mulled wineTraditional English mulled wine750ml red wine
  • 100ml fresh orange juice
  • 50ml maple syrup
  • 50ml Martell VSOP Cognac
  • 10g cinnamon
  • 10g star anise
  • 5g clove
  • For garnish: dehydrated orange slices
  • cinnamon stick
  • star anise
  1. Place all ingredients into a cooking pot and heat for at least 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. Do not boil over 70 C to avoid alcohol evaporation.
  2. Strain the mixture into a single malt glass.
  3. Add garnish and enjoy.

KLEVERT’S MULLED WINE
Recipe provided by Evert Onderbeke, head chef at Soleil
  • Evert's mulled wineEvert's mulled wine1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 100ml honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 slice ginger
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 100ml Cointreau
  • fresh orange slices, for garnish
  1. Peel the orange and lemon.
  2. Combine honey, orange and lemon in a pot. Cover with a bit of wine and bring to the boil.
  3. Add remaining wine and Cointreau, let simmer for 30 minutes below 75 C so the alcohol will not evaporate.
  4. Strain and serve warm with fresh orange slice.

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