Mulled wine combines the tastes of the season with a warming touch we love having any excuse to drink.

While the current weather is amazing, chilly nights and even frosty mornings aren’t far away. Mulled wine is a seasonal staple around the world, and in Northern Michigan, it’s as sure as a sign of autumn as the changing of the leaves. But what is it?

Mulled wine has been around since at least the second century BC, with Romans heating and spicing red wines during their cold and wet winters. The Roman influence brought viticulture to new regions across the continent. With them, they brought recipes for mulled wine for a taste of home.

These recipes changed and adapted to new areas over the centuries. Local differences were influenced by available spices or varietals that grew best, but largely centered on red wines infused with nutmeg, allspice, cloves, or whatever grew well in late summer or autumn.

The infusion process typically involves heating. It’s almost romantic to think of a large kettle of red just bubbling over a hot fire in a big hearth. Luckily, crock pots work pretty darn well in the modern day. With no fixed recipe or even ingredient list, modern mulled wine can be very different depending on who brewed it, with some favorites using ginger, cinnamon, orange, lemon, and many other spices to put their own spin on it.

Many wineries offer a seasonal mulled wine that can be easily warmed before serving. Perhaps the most famous version in Northern Michigan is Witches’ Brew from Leelanau Cellars. It’s one of the most popular offerings on their extensive list.

Mulled wine first makes its appearance on tables and social functions during fall festivals. It’s a fixture from late September through the holidays and is a favorite offering during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Do you have any special mulled wine recipes or an event you always serve it? Let us know!