Kuhano Vino was a highlight of Advent Zagreb
I absolutely adored Advent Zagreb, the Croatian capital city’s fairytale Christmas market. In particular, I became taken with Kuhano Vino, or Croatia’s version of mulled wine. This Croatian dink is a smooth and warming sipper, without being over-the-top boozy. The antidote to rakija, maybe?
Festive Advent Zagreb huts served up steaming hot cups of Kuhano Vino, and its warming spices wafted over the city. If you follow my Instagram stories, you may have noticed a mulled wine theme. One of my favorite Zagreb moments saw me with a steaming cup, watching the sunset on the cathedral, listening to Christmas music and the merrymakers around me.
I had to learn how to make it!
Literally translating as “cooked wine,” Kuhano Vino has a unique spice profile, and I knew that I had to figure out how to make it when I got back to the States, or I was going to feel very sad.
So I did. Turns out that it’s a flexible and easy recipe that you can make in just a few minutes. Love it.
Kuhano vino—a flexible mulled wine recipe
I suspect that there as many recipes for Kuhano Vino as there are merrymaking households in Croatia. You can make it with either red or white wine (this recipe calls for red). Some have many spices, some very few. There’s recipes that call for toasting the spices or boiling down some of the wine with sugar before mulling the rest. Some recipes call for a little water or orange juice, some don’t. You get the idea.
Kuhano vino essentials
However, a couple of essentials make Kuhano Vino what it is. The first is that, so far as I tasted and can find, it’s just wine. Other mulled wines have rum, vodka, brandy or other hootch added, but not Kuhano Vino. This makes it a perfect sipper on a cold afternoon—you can enjoy your mulled wine and not need a nap afterwards (unless you really want one). The second constant is star anise. It brings together the other spices and lends a sweetness without overpowering the drink.
Really, it’s unique and lovely, and you simply must try it.
A drinkable fruity red will do
While this might not taste fabulous with Two-Buck Chuck, you don’t need your best wine for Kuhano Vino. A fruity red that you’d drink will do just fine. Depending on the wine you use, you may wish to use more or less sugar and/or water to get it to your liking. Make your Kuhano Vino yours.
Have you had Kuhano Vino?
Have you had Kuhano Vino? I’d love to hear where and what you thought of Croatian mulled wine in the comments!
Kuhano Vino (Croatian Mulled Wine)
- 1 750ml bottle fruity red wine
- ½ cup granulated sugar to taste. Depending on your wine, you may wish to increase slightly
- 1 navel orange, thinly sliced
- 2 star anise
- 2 small cinnamon sticks
- 5 whole cloves
- 5 black peppercorns
- 2 cardamom pods optional
- a few grates of nutmeg
- ¼ cup water optional and to taste
- orange wedges, for serving
- Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan (I use Le Creuset)
- Bring to a boil over medium heat (watch cooking this too quickly). Then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or so. Taste about halfway through and adjust sugar and/or water (if using)
- Remove the orange and spices
- Serve right away or return to a simmer and serve with orange wedges, if desired