A Heart-Healthy Holiday Beverage [Mulled Wine Recipe]

By Nick Polizzi

Today I want to touch on a fermented drink that has been consumed worldwide for centuries. It’s actually hard to find a modern culture that doesn’t have a place for it…

I’m talking about wine, and it’s a central ingredient in the herb-infused holiday beverage recipe that we’ve shared below!

Now, I don’t really drink much alcohol but I do enjoy a glass or two of wine every now and then. I found myself curious if wine is as healthy as some folks claim, so I dove deep into this ancient tradition to uncover the truth.

Before we dive in, I want to preface: if you have a family history of alcohol abuse or any other reason that you cannot drink wine, please go with that gut instinct – there are plenty of other ways to get the healing benefits below.

Ok, let’s get into it.

Wine culture is so old that historians have found evidence of wine consumption dating back thousands of years BCE in ancient China, Greece, Lebanon, Egypt, and many other old-world countries. This versatile drink was (and still is) used for ceremony, celebration, and other religious rites — most likely because its complex flavors and symbology set it apart.

If you’ve ever tasted wine, you may have noticed that “bite” in every sip. Well that kick you’re noticing comes from the polyphenols it contains, which are loaded with the antioxidants that red wine is known for.

“Antioxidant” has been a buzzword in the wellness world due to the sheer power they have in helping you maintain a healthy immune system. Antioxidants can prevent inflammation and illness by fighting off free radicals that cause oxidation and damage to your cells.

How antioxidants work to keep you healthy: Any toxin that enters your body — be it from cleaning sprays, car exhaust, or preservative-packed foods — comes with the chance of oxidizing your cells. This means that over time, these chemicals go around taking electrons from your healthy cells, which damages the structure of the cell and speeds up its aging process. Oxidized cells are linked to a number of different cancers and other illnesses like heart disease, arthritis, and neurological disorders.

To find balance again, oxidized cells search for replacement electrons and steal them from healthy cells. The oxidation/electron-stealing cycle keeps going on and on until it’s met with an antioxidant – which has extra electrons to spare and can stop the oxidation process!

One of the dominant antioxidants in wine is called resveratrol, which comes from the skin of grapes used to make wine. Resveratrol is produced in grape plants to help them adapt to environmental stressors and also provides anti-aging qualities by reducing the number of free radicals in the grapes. This potent antioxidant is widely known as the main cause of red wine’s cardioprotective tendencies.

(Sorry white wine fans – you won’t get the same healing benefits from a Chardonnay as you would a Merlot. White wine also has resveratrol, but red wine contains higher levels of the antioxidant.)

Resveratrol, along with other constituents in red wine, also increases the levels of good cholesterol in your system and protects against buildup and the hardening/blocking of your arteries that can eventually lead to heart attacks. Resveratrol also has strong anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant properties, which can lower your risk of more serious heart diseases that usually end in surgery.

Don’t get me wrong – resveratrol is not a free pass to go wine-crazy. Just like anything else, too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. The “recommended” amount of wine is 1-2 glasses per week.

If you’re going to be imbibing a little wine (with clear intentions) this season, I have a holiday twist for you to try: my recipe for mulled wine.

Also knowns as glühwein or glögg, this ancient European drink is jam-packed with medicinal herbs that put the healing effects of wine over the top (while also cooking out a little bit of the alcohol).

The citrus in this recipe is a quintessential digestive bitter that kick starts digestion, while the cardamom has an affinity for gut health. It’s so strong that it can heal and prevent ulcers! The cinnamon acts as an aphrodisiac (wink wink) and relaxant, and the cloves are a natural pain-killer that fight off bacterial and viral infections. The star anise is antispasmodic in nature and loosens up any phlegm if you’re feeling sick – that’s why Germans add it to their Hot Toddies.

Convinced you need to give this a try? Check out the recipe below!

Healing Holiday Mulled Wine

I find that this recipe is super easy to tweak to your preferences. To be perfectly honest, I usually measure with my heart when I make this, but below are the suggested amounts.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of dry red wine (personally, I like a merlot)
  • 1 orange sliced into rounds
  • 1 lemon sliced into rounds
  • 1 small handful of cinnamon sticks
  • 4-6 whole cloves
  • 1-2 star anise
  • 2-3 pods of cardamom
  • *Optional sweetener: maple syrup or honey to taste
  • *Optional liqueur: brandy or spiced rum to taste

Instructions:

  1. Add all ingredients into a large pot
  2. Warm on your lowest setting for at least 1 hour
  3. Strain out spices and fruit
  4. Add optional ingredients if using
  5. Serve warm
  6. Garnish with an orange peel and a cinnamon stick

*If you want to try this recipe without the alcohol, substitute the wine for half grape juice, half cranberry juice (low sugar is best).

Stay curious,

Nick Polizzi
Host of Remedy: Ancient Medicine for Modern Illness
& Founder of The Sacred Science

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4 Responses

  1. In the photo there is a sprig of rosemary in the pot, but rosemary is not in the ingredients list. Just curious if you have tried adding it to the recipe. I imagine it would add a bit of a balsamic note….I may have to snip a few sprigs off of my rosemary plant and give it a try.

  2. Hi Nick,

    I am 69, retired, and in great health and have recently done 90 push-ups on each arm. I lost my first 2 wives to cancer and my 3rd wife is diabetic. I have since become a health information addict because health matters. I have followed and appreciate your knowledge as well. Thanks for your invitation to share my wisdom here.

    I was born and raised Roman Catholic and converted to fundamentalist Christianity at age 23. About 20 years ago, I realized how evil the bible and its writers were. Moses genocided 6 nations to extinction and boasted about it in his “scriptural writings”. The 32,000 virgins he kept from the 6th nation he exterminated, he numbered with the cattle and sheep as spoils of war (Deuteronomy:20)(Numbers: 31). This nation, the Midianites, were his in-laws. Moses married the oldest daughter of Jethro the Midianite after they had saved his life.

    In spite of what all religions teach, the biggest blessing of my lifetime was the realization that God’s love is absolute, unconditional and for all 7.7 billion of us. I love talking about this because it is worth just as much as life to me because it makes life worth living. It is such a gift to be able to weep uncontrollably for extreme happiness. Few people have ever heard of this; let alone experienced it. It has become my purpose in life to share it when and where I can, in the hope that others can be as blessed. I am only one of 7.7B, but I feel like I’m the happiest one down deep where it really matters. Our knowledge is ours to share; not to hoard.

  3. Wine is made from grapes – and grapes are high on the list of the “dirty dozen” (meaning heavily laced with pesticides). Please use organic wine for this recipe. Trader Joe’s has a good selection.

  4. Hi Joe,
    This is not a place to write on religions and stuff, but I can’t help sharing what I have been learning these past years with you, hoping that you will be better informed, as with health issues, same with faith issues.
    The Bible, you may have read, would be from a translated version, with many errors, but would still be an invaluable Book of Instructions for Living.
    Many secrets embedded in the Hebrew language that only the very knowledgeable teachers, and those who study it diligently will understand.

    WHO would you serve rather than The most loving, caring, merciful and just G-D, The Creator and Giver of life?
    One who is never, can never, be unjust, nor unkind! G-OD can not be wishy- washy as mankind, dealing with emotions.
    Can we understand HOW our physical system, or health, works, with every zillion cells in our bodies?

    Thus we have no comprehension how G-D works in the high standards for our living.
    IF we do not kill, (NOT murder) our enemies, they kill and destroy us, BUT, be fully aware that when we transgress/disobey/rebel in the very basic 7 Universal commandments, we sin against G-D-one example is to honor our parents, picked up by all other religions, the Bible is the original source of that commandment, given at Mt Sinai to the multitudes.

    These commandments TEACH us G-D’s love is not unconditional, but as with children we are to walk in discipline before the world as examples to others.

    “The 32,000 virgins he kept from the 6th nation he exterminated”-where did you see, read this verse, please?
    So much to learn from the right source.
    Blessing you in seeking uncorrupted truth! Stay well!

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