When the weather turns cold in Prague and you are out enjoying the sites there is only one way of warming up, Svarak.  Svarak (also called svarene vino) is the Czech name for mulled wine.

Mulled means heated and spiced. It is a warm drink made from red wine, some citrus fruit, a sweetener and spices. Sometimes it is additionally spiked with vodka or rum. Svarak is a popular warm drink during the cold weather months in Czech Republic as well as many other European countries. Perhaps some of you may know it as Gluhwein, the German name. Mexicans will find this vaguely reminiscent of  ponche navideño.

Mulled wine has been around for a very long time. It was commonly drunk during medieval times. It was called Ypocras or Hipocris after Hippocrates the physician. People believed mulled wines to be good for your health. During the Roman Empire they were served as tonics. As time passed this “medicinal” drink become popular around many countries all of whom developed their own recipes.

Nowadays I think it safe to say that most people consider Mulled wine as a Christmas or holiday drink. It has become a traditional Christmas drink. One Czech love to warm up with while wondering through the Christmas markets on chilly snowy days. During the holiday season  it is sold at all of the Christmas markets as well as many restaurants. Some places make it from scratch and others go the cheap instant mix added to red wine way.

Make your own mulled wine !

750ml red wine
150g castor sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
peel of one lemon
peel of one orange
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
1 tsp fresh nutmeg
pinch of ginger

1.  Place all ingredient except the wine into a large saucepan and place on medium heat. Add just a small glug of red wine to the pan to ensure the sugar is covered and let it cook for 4-5 minutes until it becomes thick and sticky. This should let all the spices infuse well.

2.  Once the mixture has become sticky enough, add the rest of the wine and turn down the heat. You don’t want the wine to boil otherwise all the alcohol will evaporate!!! Let cook for 5 minutes and serve hot with slices with fresh orange.

And now just enjoy !