Winter Solstice Mulled Wine
Mulled Wine + Heart Herbs
With the winter solstice upon us, it's the perfect time to share one of my favorite seasonal recipes - herbal mulled wine. This traditional drink can be enjoyed anytime throughout the winter months, adding a toasty touch to a frosty evening outside or bundled up at home with loved ones and furry friends. As the solstice arrives we focus our attention on rest and renewal, honoring the dark days of winter and preparing our bodies and minds for the spring ahead.
This version of the classic mulled beverage features both immune-supporting (astragalus) and heart-opening (hawthorn) herbs, making it a welcomed drink during the dark days of winter. Though most of the alcoholic beverages featured in stores in modern times fail to feature the herbal world, historically alcohol-based drinks were one of the main ways that people consumed in the days of yore. This festive drink harkens us back to the days of cobblestone streets and roaring fires, connecting us to our ancestral roots of using both herbs and alcohol to fortify ourselves with seasonally relevant and healthful plants.
On solstice we light warm fires and gather with those we love, keeping a light lit during the darkest through the night and into the morning, and this drink makes a perfect libation to be shared as we gather in community and prepare for the dark and light that lie ahead.
1 bottle of red wine (organic or sulfite-free preferred)
1 tablespoon dried hawthorn berries
1-2 tsp dried goji berries
1-2 slices dried astragalus root
2-3 fresh ginger root, sliced
1 stick cinnamon
2-3 3-inch strip orange zest (or dried orange slices leftover from the holidays)
1-2 tablespoons honey (optional)
Add herbs and wine to a small heavy-bottomed saucepan and warm over very low heat. Keep on low (making sure not to simmer), steeping herbs for at least one hour. Let cool slightly and strain herbs. If you would like to sweeten the beverage you can return the wine to the pan and add honey, reheat on low, and stir until honey is dissolved. Serve warm in festive cups, garnishing with a fresh strip of orange zest or cinnamon stick.
What wine to use: While different recipes will call for different types of wine you can really use whichever red wine you prefer. Traditionally this beverage is made with fuller-bodied wines or newer wines such as Beaujolais Nouveau. This could also be a great use for an open bottle of wine that you didn't quite finish or for a bottle you didn't much care for that could stand some sprucing up.
More Musings on The Winter Solstice
Want to learn more about the winter solstice? See this herbal-centric piece written by herbalist Cinder Botanica and presented by the Berkeley Herbal Center.
Note: The information is for educational, historical, and research purposes, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this site should not be used as medical advice. If you have a medical concern please seek out a qualified health care professional, and always consult your physician before adding herbal supplements into your diet, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or on medication. Do not consume alcohol if you are under the age of 21 years old.