Mulled Wines in Sonoma County
The best kind of libation for the holidays is mulled wine. Stop by these Sonoma County wineries during the holidays for a cup of cheer, and maybe a cookie, or brew your own with Sonoma County wine.
A spiced, steaming beverage that warms both the hands and the spirit, mulled wine is a fun, warming and welcome time out from traditional wine tasting — instead of picking up “hints of nutmeg” in a glass of Pinot Noir, we can put just the nutmeg in the wine!
But it’s a very old tradition in the Old World, where spices were commonly added to wine in Roman times. Today, hot, spiced wine is served from kiosks at holiday and Christmas markets. In Germany, it’s called glühwein (glow wine) and in Sweden they ask for glögg.
Sonoma County Wineries with the Glow
West Wines celebrates the holiday season every year on Thanksgiving weekend by serving up traditional Swedish glögg. Located in Dry Creek Valley, West Wines was founded by Swedish expats Bengt Akerlind and Katarina Bonde, serves the hot mulled wine, which is spiced with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and raisins, with cookies amid Swedish Christmas decorations and gift items for sale. “Scandinavian Christmas in the tasting room,” Nov. 25–27, 2016, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sunday ’til 4 p.m. Included with regular tasting fee. 1000 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA.
An unusual, category-bending venture, Spicy Vines puts the spice in their wines all year long. Run by Crystalyn Hoffman and partners, Spicy Vines’ flagship wine is a spiced Zinfandel blend ($24) that adds aromas of “spiced chai, black pepper, pomegranate, and caramelized orange,” according to the winery, to the legendarily spicy, bold fruit of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and other grapes. Hoffman, who was inspired by visits to Christmas markets in Germany, says that during the holiday season visitors can expect to be welcomed with a piping hot version of the wine. No appointment is needed. 441 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, CA.
Mull Your Own
There’s no better way to heat up a holiday get-together than mulling a big pot of wine and spices. But does the quality of the wine matter? Sure it does. Just shy away from the kind of big, tannic wines like expensive Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be, and there’s no need to spend too much — all those cinnamon sticks and whole spices are going to add up!
Fruit-forward, juicy varietals like Zinfandel may work best, along with blends and less-pricey Merlots, with soft tannins and upfront fruit.
Horse & Plow’s Drafthorse Red, a bold blend of Carignane, Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Grenache, is on tap this season available by the growler ($20). They’ve also got hard cider — and look for mulled drinks at the tasting room later this season, too. 1272 Gravenstein Highway N., Sebastopol, CA.
Peterson Winery’s Sonoma County Mendo Blendo, Barbera, or 3V White Blend may be the only family-winery bag-in-a-box wines I know of — perfect for the mulling pot! They are priced from $72 to $80, but that’s equal to four bottles worth! 4791 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA.
West Wines Swedish Glögg Recipe
Glögg is a Swedish tradition, served in the four weeks leading up to Christmas with ginger cookies and saffron buns.
2 bottles of full bodied red wine
(1-2 cups of brandy or cognac)
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
5 cinnamon sticks
2 strips of dried orange rind
1 whole piece of dried ginger
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup of sugar (brown sugar works best)
For serving: 1 package dark raisins
1 package blanched slivered almonds
(Makes 20-25 servings)
Mix all ingredients and let simmer in a pot. DO NOT let it boil since the alcohol will evaporate and alcohol enhances flavors from the spices. Let wine and spices cool off and pour into empty bottles or some other vessel that you can close. Let rest overnight and reheat when you want to use it. Remember not to boil it. The Glögg can be saved and used throughout the holiday season.
Serve in small cups and garnish with some raisins and almond slivers per cup. Make sure you also have teaspoons so the guests can get the soaked raisins out when they have finished the cup. They are great!
Looking for more things to do this holiday season in Sonoma County?