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THE WINE OF ROMAN LEGIONARIES.

One day, a salty sea breeze brought me to a beautiful town on the shores of the Baltic Sea. It is a city where all the streets converge, where the soft tinkle of an old church bell and the cobblestones of a pavement polished by centuries take you further back in time. This is Tallinn. Built by the descendants of the Vikings, this fossilized fragment of the past has left its mark on the character and mentality of its inhabitants. As a seaman, I have been to many countries. I have traveled all over Europe and lived in Germany. But the people here are not like their neighbors. Outwardly, they are as cold as the granite of their city’s ancient buildings. Appearances are deceptive. They are polite and considerate. And they will smile to you.

Walking along the streets, I turned my head like any other foreigner. The young Estonian girls were to me like unopened buds, lacking the southern sun. But when I saw the older girls, I realized that these shy buds were blossoming into graceful women. They’re not just beautiful. Unlike the southern early bloomers they are smart, dress tastefully, understand the insidious power of cosmetics, and know how to use them. In other words, not only are they skilled in the art of seduction, but they also know how to use their looks to enhance their status. Such a young woman is a temptation for men of all ages. She is like a magnificent chrysanthemum to which the cold Baltic rains have only added color and fragrance.

***

That day I walked through the old town towards the harbor. The rain was soaking my waterproof jacket and trying to creep up my collar. The doorbell of a tiny café with the funny name ‘Karolinka’ jingled, a customer came out, and I was circled by the cloud of wine aromas. The rain was creeping in by my collar after all and I didn’t hesitate.
Inside the café it was semi-dark, the candlelight reflected in the mirrors, and the scent of cloves and nutmeg tickled my nose. I ordered hot wine with spices and they brought it to me in a small cup made of thick ceramic. I drank it, enjoying the unusual flavor.
After a few sips, I felt a warmth in my body, and even the rain dripping down the window was already perceived as a part of the interior of the café.
It was my first experience with hot wine and I became a regular at ‘Karolinka’. Of my curiosity about the recipe for this hot drink, they only smiled at me offering another cup.
Many years have passed since those days, the internet has come into our lives, and living in Germany, the homeplace of hot wine, I have learned a lot about it and will share some recipes with you.

***

Gluhwein or mulled wine was known in Europe as early as the 13th century as the best remedy for colds and a cure for many ailments. The origins of this magical hot drink can be traced back to wine merchants in ancient Rome. They cleverly added honey and oriental spices to cheap local wine to improve its flavor and sell it at a higher price. Having learned from the merchants that nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon prevented wine from going sour, the Crusaders solved the problem of drinking water on their campaigns. They carried wine in leather sacks because the water from the rivers and lakes was undrinkable and full of deadly germs from rotting animal carcasses. Spices were added to prevent the wine from turning sour. With the crusaders, the drink reached German lands, where monks in monasteries invented a way to heat the wine so that the spices in it would release their healing properties. As a result, the hot wine quickly became popular and in demand. However, this hot delicacy was not affordable for everyone, and the poor could only afford it once a year, at Christmas. So the tradition was born and today, for Europeans, the mulled wine is as much a part of the festive season as decorations on the Christmas tree. After a glass or two, you can wander the snow-covered streets all night and dance!

Mulled wine has warming medicinal properties. Drinking it at the first sign of a cold helps the body to protect itself from infection, while hot wine gives you the strength to recover faster. The basis of the drink is dry red wine, which has antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Spices, herbs, fruits, and honey contain vitamins, trace elements, and essential oils. When all these ingredients are mixed and heated, they give the wine its magic power!

There are many recipes for mulled wine, but they all have a few rules in common:

  • Don’t use expensive varietal wines. They tend to have a strong flavor. Dry or semi-dry young red wines with an alcohol content of 8-12% are best for mulled wine. For example, table red wines such as Saperavi, Merlot, and Cabernet; you can even use boxed wine from Chile or Argentina. In other countries, it is made from powder or concentrate and is not suitable for mulled wine.
  • Do not use metal utensils, only ceramic or enameled ones.
  • Do not grind spices for mulled wine as they will cloud the drink when heated.
  • Under no circumstances should the drink be heated above 80°C. Otherwise, all the beneficial properties of mulled wine will be lost.
  • You can strain it before drinking, but it is better to leave the spices in the mug. It’s spicy!
  • Never reheat mulled wine as it will lose its flavor and aroma. It is better to make mulled wine in small batches and store it in a thermos.
  • Leave it to stand for at least half an hour. This allows the spices to release their full flavor and aroma.

1) RED MULLED WINE
 red dry wine – 750ml.
 sugar – 3 tbsp.
 cinnamon (cinnamon) – 3 sticks
 cloves – 6 pcs.
 nutmeg – 1/4 tsp.
 lemon – a couple of slices
Send all the ingredients to the heated red wine. Bring the temperature to 80C with constant stirring. Serve with a cinnamon stick in a cup with wine and separately with lemon slices.

2) KAROLINKA MULLED WINE (The one!)
 red dry wine – 400ml
 cognac – 75ml
 vodka – 50ml
Black tea (cut leaf, not in a bag)
 sugar – 50g.
 cloves – a couple of florets
 nutmeg – on the tip of a knife
 cinnamon – 2 sticks
 allspice – 2 pieces.
Boil black tea in 200ml of water along with all ingredients except wine, vodka, and brandy. After boiling, turn down the heat and add the wine. Then heat the drink, but do not bring it to a boil. At the end add the brandy and vodka and continue to heat to the desired consistency. Remove from the fire, pour into a thermos, and let the mulled wine insist for one hour. Done !!

3) MULLED WINE “CLASSIC” WITH ORANGE
 red dry wine – 750 ml;
 water – 50 ml;
 dry cloves – 7 florets;
 nutmeg (grated) – one-third of a teaspoon;
 sugar – 2 tablespoons;
 cinnamon – 1 stick;
 ginger (grated) – one-third teaspoon;
 orange – 1 piece.

  • Slice the orange into rings. Put it together with all the spices in a small saucepan, pour water, and bring everything together to a boil. Remove from the heat. Allow to infuse for about 15 minutes.
  • In another container, heat the wine to 70 degrees on low heat. Mix with the prepared broth, and add sugar. Stirring well, continue heating (the sugar should dissolve completely).
  • Switch off the drink before it starts to boil. Cover with a lid and wait for about half an hour.
  • Pour the finished drink into cups or glasses. You can garnish it with fruit.

4) WHITE MULLED WINE…? THIS IS SOMETHING NEW!

Indeed, traditionally mulled wine is made from red wine with spices and sugar. However, you can use semi-dry or dry white wine in the recipe – you will get a beautiful light drink of golden straw or amber color, not inferior in taste to its red counterpart – the so-called white mulled wine.
What makes white wine mulled wine so remarkable?
 eliminates the beginning symptoms of colds;
 is good for lung function due to its caffeic acid content and can be used for lung diseases;
 has healing properties for physical and mental exhaustion;
 does not pose a risk to healthy liver function when consumed in moderation;
 promotes digestion, so it is used in dietary and weight loss programs;
 dry white wine is lighter than red wine due to the lower concentration of tannins;
 rejuvenates the body by preventing the formation of free radicals;
 warms the body and soul, and helps relax stress.

All these useful properties, as well as the fullest flavor of white mulled wine, will manifest themselves to the greatest extent if the valuable substances of the wine are preserved as much as possible. For this purpose, it is recommended to observe the following rules in the preparation:

 semi-sweet white wine is not the best base for mulled wine, it can give the drink an unpleasant luscious color when heated;
 dry or semi-dry white wine should be of good quality, but elite varieties are not suitable, as their exquisite bouquet will be drowned out by the spicy flavor of spices;
 boiling is unnecessary for mulled wine, it is enough to bring it to a temperature of 70 degrees;
 it is allowed to add other alcoholic components to the drink – rum, liqueur, cognac, but in small quantities to only enrich the flavor of mulled wine from white wine;
 so that the hot wine does not become cloudy, spices and spices (cinnamon, cloves, ginger) should be used as a whole;
 white wine mulled wine should be infused before use, but not for more than 15 minutes;
 some recipes contain water or apple juice, in which case these liquids are first brought to a boil and then the wine is poured in;
 sweet and sour apples will give a pleasant note of flavor to white wine mulled wine, and there is no need to peel them;
 contrary to popular belief, heated honey is not harmful to health; to preserve valuable microelements, it is enough to add it at the end of cooking, adhering to the recipe;
 the finished drink can be strained through a strainer, and garnished with pieces of fruit and a cinnamon stick when serving.

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2 Comments

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