- I made mulled wine using recipes from famous chefs Nancy Fuller, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Ina Garten to see which one is the best.
- Fuller’s recipe took the longest to make, and it was also my least favourite of the three.
- I liked Garten’s and Zakarian’s mulled wine for different reasons, but Garten’s was the easiest to put together.
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People have apparently been enjoying mulled wine for centuries. Ancient Greeks and Romans added spices and heat to leftover wine, and by the Middle Ages, many people believed the spices in the drink were good for their health.
Mulled wine is still popular today, particularly in the winter. And over the past few centuries, chefs have come up with their own spins on the traditional drink.
I tested popular mulled-wine recipes from celebrity chefs Nancy Fuller, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Ina Garten to find which is worth making this winter.
Here’s how each recipe turned out:
Fuller’s recipe featured a lot of citrus
However, I was most concerned about the inclusion of brandy, which I don’t enjoy drinking.
Fuller’s recipe was straightforward, but it did take the longest to make
The mulled wine was easy to pull together, but it required about 40 minutes to make, which was longer than the other two recipes I tested.
I poured the wine and honey in a pot, then I put the loose spices in a handy bag called a “soup sock” â€” which is similar to cheesecloth â€” and tossed that into the pot as well.
Then I added the freshly squeezed orange and lemon juices along with the zests and let the entire mixture simmer for half an hour.
I added the brandy at the end of the 30 minutes, but not before reserving some of the mulled wine to test without it.
Although it took a while, the process was mostly hands-off.
I tasted this recipe with and without brandy, but either way, the citrus overwhelmed the drink
Because I was worried the brandy flavour would lead me to dislike this recipe, I sampled some without it.
The strongest flavour here was citrus, and it was just too overpowering for the beverage.
Even after adding the brandy, citrus was still the most prominent flavour, except now the drink had more of a burn on the way down.
spicy mulled chardonnay was a twist on the classic
This recipe also featured delicious ingredients like pear, apple cider, rosemary, and ginger liqueur, as well as black peppercorn.
It ended up being a bit more expensive than the others because of the addition of the ginger liqueur â€” which cost more than the chardonnay â€” and a vanilla bean pod, which is never cheap.
The process took about 35 minutes from
start to finish
Zakarian’s mulled chardonnay was incredibly easy to make.
I sliced the fruit into thin pieces, dumped everything into a pot, and simmered it on medium-high heat for five minutes. Then, I turned it off and let it “steep,” as directed, for 20 minutes.
Finally, I turned the heat back up, added the ginger liqueur, and stirred for another five minutes.
The end product was a sweet and spicy beverage
I wasn’t sure what to expect with such a wide range of ingredients, but I really liked the white wine in place of red in this recipe.
It was very sweet and definitely spicy from all of the black peppercorns. I’m not typically a chardonnay fan, but the buttery quality helped balance the spicy and acidic flavours.
Still, I’ll skip adding sugar and definitely lighten up on the black peppercorns the next time I make this drink.
Garten’s recipe had the shortest ingredient list
It also called for honey, cinnamon sticks, orange zest and juice, and a bit of clove and star anise.
This was the easiest and fastest recipe of the bunch
This recipe was ready in 10 minutes, and all I had to do was toss all of the ingredients into a pot and let them simmer.
I was surprised how delicious such a simple mulled wine could be
I loved the flavour of this mulled wine. It wasn’t spicy at all, and although the sweetness of the honey and cider came through, it wasn’t overwhelming.
The simple orange-peel garnish also meant I wasn’t nearly swallowing whole spices with each sip.
Despite the simplicity of the recipe, the flavour was still strong and warming, balancing sweetness and spiciness.
So many mulled recipes require a ton of spices and flourishes, but in this case, less really was more.
I’d make both Garten’s and Zakarian’s recipes again, but probably not Fuller’s
It was hard to choose my favourite between Garten’s and Zakarian’s, but I could see myself making Garten’s more often because it had a shorter (and cheaper) ingredient list and was ready to go in just 10 minutes â€” plus, I wouldn’t make any tweaks next time.
Zakarian’s mulled wine was delicious and looked the prettiest of the three, but it did require some expensive ingredients, and I would tweak the spice and sweetness levels a little. I think his recipe would work best for entertaining or special occasions.
However, I probably wouldn’t make Fuller’s recipe again. The citrus flavours were overpowering, and I really just don’t like the taste of brandy.
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