With the start of the Christmas markets, the mulled wine season comes to life. A growing number of winemakers are producing the autumn and winter drink themselves. The demand for different grape varieties is also increasing.
Christmas market, winemaker or wine trade: When it comes to mulled wine, in addition to the classic red, white and even rosé are increasingly in demand. “We have noticed for several years that white and, more recently, rosé mulled wine is increasingly being offered,” reports Ernst Büscher from the German Wine Institute (DWI). A growing number of German wine producers also produce mulled wine themselves. However, there are no valid sales or turnover figures.
Regardless of the color, mulled wine is particularly popular in the run-up to Christmas: “Red is the main mulled wine,” says Sascha Barth, spokesman for the Mainz Christmas market in the largest wine-growing region of Rheinhessen. He estimates the proportion of red to be around 80 percent. But whiter is increasingly requested at the stands. “Rosé mulled wine is a byproduct.”
“White mulled wine is a new trend,” says Silvia Schelle, the managing director of an online sales platform that sells wines from around 140 Palatinate winemakers. “Maybe because it’s just a bit fruitier.” With a sales share of around 70 percent, red mulled wine is still more in demand – and rosé mulled wine is, in her opinion, “negligible”.
“Rosé mulled wine has only officially been available since last year,” says Büscher. Until then, it had only been offered sporadically “as a rosé-colored hot drink with a fantasy name.” “Because for wine law reasons, mulled wine could only be made from red or white wine.” In 2022, the legislature also added rosé wine to the list of types of wine permitted for mulled wine production.
Interest in white mulled wine is growing
“The classic is the red,” says Ralph Seeberger, managing director of an online platform that sells wine from more than 80 winegrowers in Franconia and whose customers are generally aged 50 plus, as he says. “But people are becoming more willing to experiment.” White mulled wine is being ordered more frequently than before, and occasionally rosé mulled wine is also being ordered. The Stromberg-Zabergäu winegrowers’ cooperative has also seen increasing demand for white mulled wine in recent years. According to the people of Württemberg, the ratio is around 60 percent red and 40 percent white.
Büscher reports that the grape varieties Pinot Noir, Dornfelder and Regent are particularly suitable for the red classic. But it is also available from barrique barrels. When it comes to white, low-acid varieties such as Müller-Thurgau or Silvaner are particularly suitable. But more aromatic varieties such as Scheurebe or Gewürztraminer are also available as mulled wine.
“Just 15 years ago you could assume that someone who wanted white mulled wine came from the Rheingau,” says Barth from Mainz in Rhineland-Palatinate. Because many more white grapes than red grapes are grown there. According to Stefan Kolb from the Schlossgartenhof winery in Saulheim, Rhine-Hesse, this also applies to the Saale-Unstrut and Saxony growing regions. “In the East, white mulled wine has always been stronger.” In Mainz, young women and girls in particular now prefer white mulled wine, says Barth. “Because of the teeth. But that’s nonsense, there’s no dye in it.”
“Served in glass cups, it’s an eye-catcher”
According to the wine law, mulled wine is “a flavored drink containing wine” that is made exclusively from red, white or rosé wine and is sweetened and seasoned, reports Büscher. “The addition of dyes is prohibited, as is the addition of alcohol or water.” The alcohol content must be at least 7 and less than 14.5 percent by volume.
“Because mulled wine is one of the flavored wine-based drinks, it can also be made as rosé from a cuvée of red and white wine,” reports Büscher about a change in European wine law in 2022. “This is not permitted for rosé wine production.”
According to Kolb, the increased demand for rosé in the bottle business is also driving demand for rosé mulled wine. He speaks of a “trend story” and says: “Served in glass cups, it’s an eye-catcher.”
Basic products from Germany
“For some winegrowers, the mulled wine business has also become an important economic mainstay,” reports Büscher. “They also offer mulled wine in large containers for stand operators at the Christmas markets.” Like Kolb and the Rheinhessen Schlossgartenhof. About a third of the yield from the 30 hectare cultivated area is made into mulled wine and sent throughout the country, reports Kolb. According to the association, mulled wine is not an issue for the members of the Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates (VDP).
The term “winemaker’s mulled wine” can only be used if the mulled wine was made from your own wines, explains Büscher. “German mulled wine,” on the other hand, simply means that the basic products come from Germany.
Büscher reports that winemakers now increasingly offer mulled wine in organic quality, vegan or based on old home recipes. The “Fair’n Green” sustainability seal is also becoming increasingly popular, says Kolb. Non-alcoholic wine with mulled wine spices cannot be called “alcohol-free mulled wine,” says Büscher. Rather, it is a “flavored drink made from non-alcoholic red wine.” (dpa)
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