Creating Coziness

DIY Winter Market

mulled wine in a RIEDEL Fire Glass in the background are fir branches

Creating Coziness: DIY Winter Market and Mulled Wine Magic at Home. Mulled wine, magical markets, and memorable festivities.

With winter markets comes a certain enchanting ambiance where the magic of the season comes alive through twinkling lights, joyful chatter, and the smell of fresh food. One of the most beloved features of these markets is the steaming, aromatic mulled wine - a symbol of winter festivity that fills the air with an aroma of spices. In this blog, we'll walk you through how to recreate this magical experience at home by setting up your own DIY winter market and crafting homemade mulled wine. Let's embrace the coziness of the season!

The winter market – a symbol of festivity

Winter markets are more than just places to shop; they embody the holiday spirit, serving as hubs for communities to come together and celebrate the winter season. European winter markets began in Germany around the time of the late Middle Ages, establishing themselves as places for people to buy gifts, decorations, and food for the holiday season. Over time, these markets spread throughout Europe to countries like Italy and France, and despite a brief decline during the 19th century, today, winter markets are more prominent than ever. If you're keen to visit one for some seasonal magic, you can find these markets throughout Europe, in cities across North America, such as New York and Toronto, and even in Singapore!

Whichever market you visit, a common thread weaving through them is the delightful array of food, drink, and crafts on display. Among this myriad of delights, mulled wine stands out as a quintessential beverage that warms both body and soul, making it an indispensable part of the winter market experience.

mulled wine in RIEDEL Drink Specific Double Rocks Glasses in the background is a poinsettia plant and fir branches

The basics of mulled wine

Mulled wine, a cherished winter warmer, dates back centuries. It originated in ancient Rome, where wine was heated and infused with spices to chase away the chill during wintertime. The core ingredients of mulled wine include red wine (unsurprisingly), spices like cloves, cinnamon, and star anise, sweeteners, and citrus. The wine is gently heated, allowing the flavors of the spices to meld with the wine, creating a fragrant and comforting drink that's perfect for the winter season. No wonder mulled wine has become a staple feature of winter markets!

Crafting your own winter market at home

As with anything, getting yourself out to a winter market may not be entirely practical, but not to worry - you can recreate the magic of one in your home!

The idea of a DIY winter market at home may seem daunting, but with some creativity and a dash of holiday spirit, it's entirely achievable. A few steps that will help you create that sense of festive magic include:
  • Selecting a space in your home or backyard to transform into your own winter market wonderland. You may want to focus on an outdoor space that captures that crisp atmosphere you get from a regular winter market, or you may prefer a warmer indoor environment that mimics the vibe of a large tent at the center of a winter market.
  • Set up your own stalls with various offerings like homemade treats, artisan crafts, and holiday gifts. This can be a great way of capturing children's imagination if you're creating a winter market for the whole family to enjoy.
  • Decorate the area with fairy lights, candles, and garlands. Lighting goes a long way toward creating a festive atmosphere that mirrors the charm of a traditional winter market.
  • Play seasonal tunes in the background that reflect the type of winter market you're aiming for. Like lighting, music is critical in creating an authentic, enjoyable atmosphere for guests.
  • Prepare some beverages for everyone to enjoy. Some popular winter market beverages include German beers, mulled cider, eggnog, hot chocolate, and, of course, mulled wine, which you can find some recipes for below.
snow globe cocktail in the RIEDEL O Tumbler in the background are fir branches

Gin or Vodka

Snow Globe Cocktail

  • Place a spring of rosemary in the center of a RIEDEL O glass, add water and a few pomegranate seeds, then place it in the freezer until the water is frozen.
  • Add 5 cl Gin or Vodka
  • Top up with club soda
  • Garnish with pomegranate seeds
  • Cheers!

Homemade mulled wine recipes

For many people, homemade mulled wine is the quintessential winter beverage. We've got you covered with a variety of mulled wine recipes to suit different tastes.

mulled wine in RIEDEL Drink Specific Double Rocks Glasses in the background are fir branches

Traditional mulled wine

This classic mulled wine recipe utilizes the essentials, including cloves, cinnamon, and oranges. To make enough for a few servings to go around, you'll need:
  • One 750ml bottle of red wine (we recommend a dry, full-bodied red, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or Zinfandel)
  • One sliced orange
  • Eight whole cloves
  • A couple of cinnamon sticks
  • Two star anise
  • A quarter cup of sugar (use more or less depending on taste preference)
  •  A quarter cup of brandy (optional).

Add all ingredients to a saucepan, stir to combine, cover, and simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes or up to three hours if you wish. Once done, strain into your hot beverage glass of choice and garnish with fresh orange.

mulled wine in a RIEDEL Fire Glass in the background is a poinsettia plant and fir branches

Non-alcoholic mulled wine 

Zero-alcohol drink options have come such a long way that it's much easier nowadays to enjoy alcohol-free versions of popular beverages. For the non-alcoholic version of this timeless winter recipe, keep most elements the same, replacing the 750ml of red wine with a 750ml bottle of alcohol-free, full-bodied red wine.

If you'd rather cut the wine out altogether, instead substitute the wine for the same quantity of grape juice. For a brandy alternative, try adding half a teaspoon of vanilla extract. From there, carry out the same process of simmering the mixture for 30+ minutes before straining it into your hot beverage glass and garnishing.

mulled wine in a RIEDEL Fire Glass in the background are two candy canes and fir branches

Spiced cranberry mulled wine

As if mulled wine needed to be any more festive, this recipe introduces a hearty dash of cranberry into the mix. For this recipe, we include a half cup of cranberry juice and some fresh cranberries, and replace the sugar with honey.

Add 750ml full-bodied red wine, a half cup of cranberry juice, and a quarter cup of honey into a pan. Add one sliced orange, a half cup of fresh cranberries, eight whole cloves, two cinnamon sticks, and two star anise. Cover and simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes - three hours. Strain into your hot beverage glass and garnish with fresh orange and cranberries.

mulled wine in a RIEDEL Drink Specific Double Rocks Glass in the background is a pomegranate and fir branches

Pomegranate and orange mulled wine

Including some pomegranate in your mulled wine recipe introduces a tart sweetness that gives an even greater depth of flavor to your festive drink. Add some orange liqueur on top of that, and you can take the vibrancy of your mulled wine to new levels.

For this recipe, add your 750ml bottle of red wine to a pan along with half a cup of pomegranate juice, a quarter cup of orange liqueur, and the classic inclusions of one sliced orange, eight cloves, two cinnamon sticks, and two star anise that makeup all the best mulled wine recipes. Stir well, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes - three hours for a mulled wine with a pomegranate twist.

Enhancing the mulled wine experience with the proper glassware

mulled wine in a RIEDEL Fire Glass in the background are two candy canes and fir branches

At RIEDEL, we're all about utilizing the best glassware for your drinks, and that applies to mulled wine, too. The vessel from which you savor your mulled wine can elevate the experience to another level. Choose glassware or mugs that retain heat well, ensuring your mulled wine stays warm as you savor it slowly. The shape and material of the glass can also impact the aroma and flavor, while a crystal hot beverage glass brings brilliance to your mulled wine that will allow it to glisten as you sip it surrounded by your winter market's fairy lights and candles.

It's important to note that pouring boiling or very hot liquids into a glass can cause damage to the glass. The sudden temperature change can lead to stress within the material, which in turn increases the risk of breakage or cracking. To ensure your safety, avoid pouring boiling liquids directly into the glass.

Creating a DIY winter market at home and preparing homemade mulled wine allows you to embrace the spirit of the season and craft cherished memories. Take inspiration from winter markets around the world, infuse your home with the scents and sights of the season, and celebrate the joy of togetherness. The coziness of winter is at your fingertips - embrace it and create a festive experience for you and all your family to remember.