Mulled Wine


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Introduction to Mulled Wine

As the winter chill sets in, there’s no beverage that quite captures the essence of the season like Mulled Wine. This spiced and aromatic drink has been warming people for centuries. Its rich history and simple preparation make it a favorite for holiday gatherings.

The combination of red wine with mulling spices and citrus creates a symphony of flavors that are both comforting and festive. Whether you’re hosting a Christmas party or simply looking to unwind by the fireplace, Mulled Wine is the perfect companion.

Let’s embark on a flavorful journey through the world of Mulled Wine, exploring its taste profile, history, and variations. By the end of this post, you’ll be equipped to craft this timeless winter beverage with ease and flair.

Key Facts About Mulled Wine

  • Alcohol Volume: Approx. 10% ABV per serving
  • Calories: Approx. 210 kcal per serving
  • Glass Type: Heatproof glass or mug
  • Typical Garnish: Orange slices or cinnamon sticks

Interesting Facts about Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine is steeped in tradition, often associated with Christmas markets in Europe. Its origins can be traced back to the Romans who would heat wine to defend against the cold winter. Today, it’s a staple in many cultures, each adding their unique twist to the recipe.

Did you know that Mulled Wine is also known as Glühwein in German-speaking countries and vin chaud in France? These variations include different spices and sometimes a splash of stronger spirits like rum or vodka.

Mulled Wine Preparation

Tasting Notes for Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine offers a rich and complex flavor profile. The base of red wine provides a fruity backdrop, while the mulling spices, like cinnamon and cloves, introduce a warm and spicy note. The citrus from the orange slices adds a refreshing zest, balancing the sweetness of the honey or sugar.

This drink is ideal for those who appreciate a balance of sweet and spicy. It’s perfect for holiday celebrations, winter gatherings, or as a cozy nightcap. Mulled Wine is a versatile drink that can be enjoyed by many, regardless of their usual wine preferences.

History of Mulled Wine

The history of Mulled Wine is as rich as its flavor. It dates back to the 2nd century, where the Romans would heat wine to keep warm during the bitter winters. As the Roman Empire expanded, so did the popularity of this spiced wine, reaching across Europe.

Throughout the Middle Ages, Mulled Wine became a health tonic, with spices believed to promote health and avoid sickness. The drink evolved over time, with each region adding its own local ingredients and flair.

In the Victorian era, Mulled Wine became synonymous with Christmas, a tradition that continues to this day. It’s a testament to the drink’s enduring appeal and ability to bring people together in celebration and warmth.

Mulled Wine Ingredients

  • Red Wine (750 ml / 25.4 fl oz): The foundation of the drink, providing a fruity and robust base.
  • Orange, sliced (approx. 110g / 3.8 oz): Adds a citrusy brightness and festive appearance.
  • Brandy (2 fl oz / 60 ml): Gives an extra kick and depth to the wine’s flavor.
  • Whole Cloves (approx. 0.07 oz / 2g): Introduces a warm, spicy note.
  • Cinnamon Sticks: Contribute a sweet and woody spice, essential to the drink’s profile.
  • Star Anise: Offers a licorice-like aroma, enhancing the complexity.
  • Honey or Sugar (60g / 2.1 oz): Balances the spices with sweetness.

Did you know? Mulled Wine is sometimes referred to as “Yule Wine” in reference to the ancient winter solstice festival known as Yule.

Mulled Wine Ingredients

Mulled Wine Method

Preparing the Base

Begin by pouring the red wine into a large pot or Dutch oven. This will serve as the vessel for your Mulled Wine, allowing the flavors to combine evenly.

Infusing the Spices

Add the sliced orange, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and star anise to the pot. These ingredients will infuse the wine with their distinctive flavors, creating the drink’s signature taste.

Sweetening the Mix

Stir in your choice of honey or sugar until it dissolves. This step is crucial for achieving the right balance of sweetness against the spices.

Gentle Heating

Warm the mixture over low heat, being careful not to boil. Simmering allows the spices to meld with the wine without evaporating the alcohol.

Finishing Touch

After 25-30 minutes, add the brandy for an additional layer of warmth and complexity. Heat for an extra minute to integrate the flavors.


Strain the Mulled Wine to remove the solid ingredients. Serve warm, garnished with extra orange slices or cinnamon sticks for a festive touch.

Serving Suggestion for Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine is traditionally served in a heatproof glass or mug. This type of glassware is essential to handle the warmth of the drink while allowing the aromas to be appreciated.

Garnishes not only add visual appeal but also enhance the drink’s aroma and flavor. Fresh orange slices and additional cinnamon sticks are classic choices that complement the spices in the wine.

Elevating Mulled Wine

  • Quality of Wine: Start with a good quality red wine that you’d enjoy on its own. The better the base, the better the end result.
  • Spice Selection: Use whole spices rather than ground for a cleaner taste and easier removal.
  • Slow Infusion: Allow plenty of time for the spices to infuse their flavor into the wine for a more complex taste.

Experiment with different spices or fruits to find your perfect blend. Some enjoy adding a bit of ginger or peppercorns for an extra kick.

Serving Mulled Wine

Substitutions and Alternatives for Mulled Wine

If you don’t have brandy on hand, you can substitute it with other spirits like rum or bourbon. For a non-alcoholic version, grape juice with a splash of balsamic vinegar is a great alternative.

Similar drinks that share the warm, spiced character of Mulled Wine include Hot Toddy and Spiced Cider. These can be enjoyed with many of the same spices and offer a similar cozy experience.

Add a Twist to Mulled Wine

For a unique take on Mulled Wine, consider adding a splash of orange liqueur for a deeper citrus flavor. Alternatively, infuse the wine with a tea bag of chai spices for a different spice profile.

Another twist is to incorporate pomegranate juice for a tart edge and a beautiful deep red color. This addition can create a more complex and layered drink.

Preferred Liquors for Mulled Wine

When selecting a red wine for Mulled Wine, medium-bodied varieties like Merlot or Zinfandel work well. They offer the right balance of fruitiness and structure.

For brandy, a VSOP cognac can add a luxurious touch, but even a standard brandy will enrich the wine’s flavor. The key is to use a spirit that complements the wine rather than overpowering it.

Similar Cocktails to Mulled Wine

If you enjoy Mulled Wine, you might also like Glögg, a Scandinavian version that often includes raisins and almonds. Feuerzangenbowle is another German variant that involves caramelizing a sugarloaf soaked in rum above the wine.

For those who prefer a lighter drink, a White Wine Spritzer with a cinnamon stick can offer a refreshing alternative with a nod to the spiced aspect of Mulled Wine.

Food Pairings to go with Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine pairs beautifully with traditional holiday foods like gingerbread or mince pies. The spices in the wine complement the rich flavors of these seasonal treats.

For a savory option, consider pairing it with a cheese platter featuring aged cheeses like Gouda or Cheddar. The wine’s warmth and spices contrast nicely with the creamy textures.

Mulled Wine FAQs

Can I make Mulled Wine in advance? Yes, you can prepare Mulled Wine ahead of time and gently reheat it before serving. This can actually allow the flavors to meld even more.

How can I prevent the alcohol from evaporating? Heat the Mulled Wine over low heat and avoid boiling. This will preserve the alcohol content while still allowing the flavors to develop.

What can I do with leftover Mulled Wine? Leftover Mulled Wine can be cooled and stored in the refrigerator. Use it as a base for a marinade or glaze for meats, adding a rich flavor.

Is it possible to make Mulled Wine in a slow cooker? Absolutely! A slow cooker is ideal for making Mulled Wine, as it maintains a consistent low temperature, perfect for infusing the flavors without boiling.

Can I use white wine to make Mulled Wine? While red wine is traditional, you can use white wine for a lighter version. Adjust the spices accordingly to complement the wine’s profile.

Mulled Wine_001

Mulled Wine

Warm, spiced, and wonderfully fragrant, Mulled Wine is a traditional winter beverage that's perfect for the holiday season. Made with red wine, a blend of mulling spices, and citrus, it's a cozy drink that's best enjoyed in good company.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Beverage
Cuisine Various
Calories 210 kcal


  • Large pot or Dutch oven
  • Spoon for stirring
  • Measuring cups
  • Knife and cutting board for slicing the orange
  • Strainer


  • 1 bottle red wine 750 ml / 25.4 fl oz
  • 1 orange, sliced approx. 110g / 3.8 oz
  • 1/4 cup brandy 2 fl oz / 60 ml
  • 8-10 whole cloves approx. 0.07 oz / 2g
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2-3 star anise
  • 1/4 cup honey or sugar 60g / 2.1 oz
  • Optional garnish: additional orange slices or cinnamon sticks


  • Pour the red wine into a large pot or Dutch oven.
  • Add the sliced orange, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and star anise.
  • Stir in the honey or sugar until it dissolves.
  • Gently heat the wine mixture over low heat. Make sure to avoid boiling to keep the alcohol from evaporating. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.
  • Add the brandy and heat for an additional minute.
  • Strain the mulled wine to remove the spices and orange slices.
  • Serve warm in mugs or heatproof glasses. Garnish with extra orange slices or cinnamon sticks if desired.


For a non-alcoholic version, replace the wine with a combination of grape juice and a splash of balsamic vinegar, and omit the brandy. Adjust the sweetness as needed.
Keyword Christmas, Cinnamon, Citrus, Cloves, Holiday Drink, Mulled Wine, Orange, Red Wine, Spiced Wine, Warm Cocktails, Winter Beverage

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