Mulled Wine is the loveliest Christmastime drink. Red wine is steeped on the stove with sugar, fruits and spices reminiscent of the holidays. Served warm, its spiced flavors fill every sip as well as your entire home.
Mulled Wine Recipe
Every year when I come home for Christmas, my mom makes a big pot of mulled wine. It’s one of our family’s little holiday traditions.
A bold red wine steeped with sugar, fresh fruits and warm spices makes the house smell cozy and welcoming. One mugful and I know I’m home for the holidays.
I asked my mom if I could share her mulled wine recipe with you because I really think everyone should enjoy it around the holiday season. It’s one of the best Christmas drinks there is!
To make a good mulled wine, you need start with a bottle of a full-bodied red wine, like a cabernet or merlot.
Why you’ll love this recipe
You’ll love this recipe, for a few reasons:
- You can make this festive drink in very large batches, perfect holiday parties with loads of guests! Much easier than making single cocktails.
- Making mulled wine means you can use a less expensive wine. Sure, expensive bottles of wine may have a better flavor, but after adding mulling spices to a less fancy bottle of wine you may not even know the difference.
- Mulled wine recipes like this one will make the whole house smell incredible. Skip the fake candles and wall plug-ins, you’ve got the real stuff to make your house smell like the holidays!
What is mulled wine?
Mulled wine is essentially hot wine that has been steeped with mulling spices. The word “mull” means to heat and sweeten with spices.
A simmering pot of simple ingredients that creates the perfect drink for the holidays. Mulled wine has become increasingly popular to drink during Christmastime. You can make version of mulled wine that are free of any alcohol content too!
With citrus juices and warm spices, mulled wine is the perfect beverage to keep you warm on cold winter evenings.
Mulled wine around the world
In English, mulled wine is sometimes called spiced wine or hot wine.
In other countries, mulled wine goes by other names, and the recipes vary based on local ingredients and cultural traditions. Here are a few:
- Brazil: Vinho quente or quentão
- Bulgaria: Greyano vino
- Chile: Vino nagevado or candola
- Czech Republic: Svařené víno
- Denmark & Norway: Gløgg
- Estonia & Finland: Glögi
- France: Vin chaud
- Germany: Glühwein
- Hungary: Forralt bor
- Iceland & Sweden: Glögg
- Italy: Vin brulé
- The Netherlands (Holland): Bischopswijn
- Slovakia: Varene vino
Tools & glassware
You will need a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven to make this simple recipe. If you prefer, feel free to adapt this recipe and make it in your slow cooker!
Use a sharp knife and cutting board to slice the fresh oranges and grab a citrus juicer to make fresh orange juice and lemon juice.
You’ll need a good stirring spoon with a long handle and a ladle to serve the finished product.
Serve up this delicious wine in pretty mugs or insulated wine glasses since it will be hot! If you want a disposable option for your holiday party, a paper cup is fine but make sure it is insulated.
You only need a few simple ingredients to make this recipe. Here’s what to grab at the grocery store:
- navel oranges: Any other kind of orange will work too. Cara cara oranges are nice and sweet.
- whole cloves: Yes, using whole cloves in this recipe is important. Ground spices will make your mulled wine gritty.
- bottle of red wine: Use a full-bodied wine, such as merlot or cabernet sauvignon. Don’t feel too pressured to get a perfect bottle of wine! Just go with your gut and grab a red wine that you think is tasty.
- brown sugar
- fresh squeezed orange juice: Using fresh squeezed orange juice is truly a game changer. But if you need to save on time, bottled juice that is 100% orange juice will work.
- water: Use the best water you have available to you.
- lemon juice: Just as fresh orange juice is important, fresh lemon juice is important too! Squeeze your own lemon juice for the best flavor.
- whole cinnamon sticks: Using whole spices is ideal for mulled drinks, so you don’t get as many grains of spices in your drink. If you must use ground cinnamon, use a cheesecloth.
If you’re making big batches of mulled wine, you might need to buy two or three bottles. One 750-ml bottle of wine has about six glasses in it.
Best wine for mulled wine
Reach for a kind of wine that is more rich and deep, rather than something bright. A red blend or even a red zinfandel could be a good option for mulled wine recipes. Another more fruity option would be pinot noir.
Personally, I recommend using a good merlot or cabernet sauvignon. If you like a more fruity red wine, then you would probably prefer the flavor of merlot. Cabernet is typically going to be more rich and full-bodied, but both of these wines will work.
The alcohol in mulled wine will mostly cook out as you simmer the wine, so it won’t be as potent as drinking a regular glass of wine. As such, the guests at your holiday gathering may feel comfortable drinking more glasses. So plan for extra!
Regardless, it will keep its distinct wine flavor, coupled with the flavors you steep in it. In this recipe, we use brown sugar, fresh orange juice and lemon juice, plus whole cloves, cinnamon sticks and orange slices. It always turns out amazing and is the best mulled wine recipe for the winter season!
If you are still a bit confused and wish you were BFF with a sommelier, I’ve got a guide to red wine just for you! (And I’ve also got one for white, rosé and sparkling wines — just in case. That last one will totally come in handy for New Year’s Eve!)
Really though, just grab a red wine that you like and it will turn out great.
How to Make Mulled Wine
Here’s how to make this easy mulled wine recipe:
Wash and dry each of the fresh oranges really well. Then slice one of the oranges into ¼-inch slices.
Insert whole cloves into the rind of the other orange until it is evenly covered in cloves, like this:
Then, a large pot or dutch oven and stir together the wine, brown sugar, water and fruit juices of medium heat.
Add the clove covered orange, half of the orange slices, and two cinnamon sticks to the medium heavy-bottomed pot of wine.
Bring the wine mixture to a simmer and then reduce to medium-low heat. Allow the mulled wine to heat on a low simmer, not a boil, for about 30 minutes. Then remove it from the heat.
When you are ready to serve the wine, warm it over a low heat. Then serve in small amounts in insulated wine glasses or your favorite mugs.
Garnish with a orange slice, cinnamon stick and star anise pod and enjoy that first sip!
Tips & tricks
Here are some tips and tricks for making this recipe:
- Add any extra fruit or spices to make this mulled wine taste extra special. Fresh cranberries, pink lady apples, and cardamom pods are all popular additions to this festive beverage.
- Watch the pot of wine closely as it simmers so that you can ensure it doesn’t hit a rolling boil. A small simmer is all you need to meld the warm spices and delicious red wine together.
- If this beverage is staying warm at a party, give it a good stir every now and then to make sure everything is still well mixed together.
How to serve mulled wine
In order to keep from spilling any mulled wine, pour each serving into a glass using a ladle. Keep this delicious mulled wine warm by keeping stovetop on low or pouring the mixture into a slow cooker.
If you leave a few mugs or insulated glasses and a ladle by the pot or crock pot, then people can serve themselves when they want another mug of mulled wine!
Garnish the drinks with orange wedges, cinnamon sticks and maybe a star anise if you have any to spare.
How to store mulled wine
Store leftover mulled wine in a large mason jar or other airtight glass bottle. Refrigerate for up to a week. To reheat, place in a small dutch oven or pot over low heat on the stock top or warm in the crock pot.
I do not recommend freezing any leftovers that you might have.
What to serve with mulled wine
You can serve this warming beverage with your favorite snacks too. A Christmas charcuterie board full of holiday spirit is always a good idea, and these bacon, fig and goat cheese crostini would pair well with mulled wine too.
If you need an easy snack to serve with this cozy winter drink, then candied spiced nuts are a great quick option!
If you’re asking this question in context of how long you can leave it out at your party, a few hours is the safest bet. Keep it warmed on the stove top or in a crock pot so that the flavors stay robust and cozy. Leftovers, if stored properly in the refrigerator, will last for about a week.
Since mulled wine is simmered and cooked, it actually loses some of its alcohol content. There are even delicious recipes that are non-alcoholic because all the alcohol is cooked out. With this recipe, there will still be some alcohol left in each warm mug of mulled wine but it is definitely less than most bottles of wine contain.
More wine drink recipes
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- 2 medium navel oranges
- 20-30 whole cloves
- 1 (750 ml) bottle red wine such as merlot or cabernet sauvignon
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup orange juice fresh
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice fresh
- 2 cinnamon sticks plus more for garnish
- Wash and dry the oranges. Slice one of the oranges into ¼-inch slices. Into the rind of the second orange, pierce the skin with. Do this all over the orange, placing the cloves 1 inch apart until it is evenly covered in cloves.
- In a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, stir together wine, sugar, water and juices.
- Add the clove-studded orange, half of the orange slices and cinnamon sticks. Stir until sugar has dissolved.
- Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Do not boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
- When ready to serve, warm on low heat. Serve in mugs or insulated glasses.
- Garnish with an orange wedge and/or a cinnamon stick. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
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