Mulled Wine is a traditional holiday drink made with red wine, brandy, and mulling spices like cloves, star anise, and cinnamon. It’s delicious, cozy, and guaranteed to warm you from the inside out.
Cooler temperatures are here and the holidays are fast approaching, cozy up with a cup (or two) of this warm spiced wine.
What is Mulled Wine
Mulled Wine, in its simplest form, is a wine that has been spiced, sweetened, and served warm- usually with some sort of hard liquor.
In Germany, mulled wine is known as Gluhwein or “glow wine” and is made with a shot of rum or amaretto. In Prague, the beautiful city where I had my first mulled wine experience, it is called svařák and while everyone in Prague has their own unique twist on this festive drink, it is most commonly served without the addition of additional liquor. Head over to Sweden and you’ll get Gløgg- a wine made with blanched almonds, raisins, cardamom, and typically more sugar.
While the foundation for mulled wine is the same no matter where you go, the regional differences give each their own unique taste and flavor.
Ingredients in Mulled Wine
- Wine. The most important ingredient. You can use red or white wine, but it’s traditionally made with an inexpensive red wine.
- Liquor (optional). Similar to sangria, mulled wine really loves a little brandy. However, feel free to pick your favorite liquor- rum, vodka, brandy- or leave it out altogether.
- Oranges. Oranges are the classic addition to mulled wine, but feel free to include clementines or lemons (or both!).
- Fruit. I went a little rogue with this recipe and added fresh cranberries and blackberries. The blackberries, in particular, added really nice sweet berry notes.
- Whole spices. Although it differs from region to region, there are three must-have spices in any warm and toasty wine (according to me)- whole cloves, star anise, and whole cinnamon sticks. Add whatever you have on hand, but take care to remove all spices (especially those little cloves) before serving.
- Sweetener. I used maple syrup, but brown sugar, granulated sugar, or honey would also work. Of course, feel free to skip the added sugar.
How to make Mulled Wine
- Combine all ingredients in a pot or saucepan set over medium heat.
- Gently bring the wine to a low simmer over medium-low heat. Do not boil. Heat for approximately 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- To serve, carefully ladle into the desired number of serving glasses. Leave the spices behind for re-use.
- Garnish with additional fruit, if desired.
Slow Cooker/Crockpot Method:
- Add all of the ingredients to a 4-quart slow cooker.
- Cover and heat on LOW for 1 hour, or until the wine is warm throughout.
- Ladle into glasses leaving behind any spices.
- Garnish with fruit, if desired.
Does Mulled Wine Have Alcohol?
Yes. Mulled wine is warm spice-infused wine.
Many mulled wine recipes (like this one) often include liquor like brandy, vodka, or rum, thus making mulled wine even more potent. The key to maintaining alcohol in mulled wine is to avoid boiling for prolonged periods of time. A few seconds of boiling will not boil away all the alcohol in your mulled wine; however, it’s best to keep it at a low simmer. The idea is to get the wine warm enough so that the spices and fruit can infuse into the wine, but not so warm that it starts to boil.
Tips and Tricks
Avoid over-spicing. There’s a reason why soups, stews, and yes, mulled wine, only call for a couple of cinnamon sticks or whole star anise…these spices are potent. A couple of each is all you’ll need.
Do not drink or eat the spices. Instead, leave them behind in the pot. They’re good for 2-3 more rounds of wine.
Avoid boiling. Boiling for longer than a few seconds and you’ll quickly decrease the overall alcohol content of your spiced wine.
Add some cider! Adding apple juice or apple cider is a great way to sweeten it up without adding sugar. Start with 1 cup.
Make it in a slow cooker. It’s easier.
Frequently Asked Questions
Mulled wine is made with red wine, whereas red wine is simply just red wine. Typically, mulled wine is served warm and is made with red wine combined with brandy, oranges, or orange juice, and spices like whole cloves, whole cinnamon sticks, and star anise.
Yes, but it depends on several factors, most important, however, is how fast you drink and refill your mug with more mulled wine and how long/intensely it’s been warming. Boiling mulled wine and/or simmering for long periods of time will decrease the overall alcohol content. So, if you’re looking to get buzzed, avoid prolonged periods of boiling.
Any dark, fruity, and full-bodied red wine with high alcohol content. Wines like Merlot, Zinfandel, and Grenache are all great options.
Allow any leftovers to cool to room temperature before transferring to an airtight jar or container. Keep stored in the refrigerator until ready to reheat.
For 3-5 days.
Yes. It can be reheated on the stovetop over low heat until warm or in the slow cooker on LOW until reheated.
Have you tried making this Mulled Wine Recipe?
Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts. And tag me #theforkedspoon on Instagram if you’ve made any of my recipes, I always love to see what you’re cooking in the kitchen.
Spiced Mulled Wine Recipe
- 1 bottle red wine - 750ml of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, or Grenache
- ½ cup brandy
- 1 orange - sliced
- ½ cup fresh cranberries - halved
- ½ cup blackberries
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 whole star anise
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup - or brown sugar
- Additional blackberries - cranberries and orange peels/slices, for serving
- Combine all ingredients in a (non-aluminum) pot or saucepan set over medium heat.
- Gently bring the wine to a low simmer over medium-low heat- do not boil as this will boil off all the alcohol. Heat for approximately 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- To serve, carefully ladle the mulled wine into the desired number of serving glasses, leaving spices behind for re-use.
- Garnish with additional orange slices, blackberries, and cranberries, if desired.
- Add all ingredients to a 4-quart slow cooker. Cover and set your slow cooker to LOW heat. Warm for approximately 1 hour, or until wine is warm throughout. Ladle into glasses leaving behind any spices.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)