Mulled wine is one of life’s great joys in the middle of winter. It’s warmth, booze, and Christmas cheer all rolled into one. However, the first step is often the trickiest: what wine is both good enough and cheap/not good enough to heat and add spice to?
To get the definitive answer we headed over to Bottlerocket to get some tips from owner and mulled wine lover Tom Geniesse. His first tip is not to spend too much money on wine for mulled wine because it would be "foolish to do so." Our cheap hearts rejoice at the phrase. So how do we proceed? Geniesse’s basic advice is that "what you want is a nice, big, rich wine that doesn’t have too much tannin [or] too much bite."
In terms of specifics he starts with malbecs, which he deems "inexpensive, delicious, big, and soft." His choice is the Loca Linda, which is only $18 for a 1-liter bottle — who doesn’t love bonus wine in their bottle?
He continues to thrill the cheapest among us by uttering the words "bag in a box" (but he does couch the suggestion by noting it needs to have "the right character." So Franzia is out. Sorry). He suggests something "fruity and friendly"; his pick is Wineberry’s Chateau Moulin de la Roquille, which Geniesse touts because of it’s quality. It’s only $39, which means you’re getting less than $10 a bottle for this 3-liter bag.
If you’re hoping for something a bit fresher, he suggests the Weingut Schloss Muhlenhof. "This is from a German grape called dornfelder, which is much lighter." So if you want warmth without the heaviness, you can pick up this bottle for only $12.
His last tip goes beyond wines and suggests adding a kick to your concoction with some brandy. His choice is an inexpensive option, Bouchard’s french brandy that is only $13 a bottle. But for the liquor-loving among us Geniesse suggests experimenting with whatever your favorites are. We certainly like any scenario that adds a bit of punch to our mulling!
For more on buying your mulling wines watch the video above and break out your spices!