Mulled Wine is on my must-have holiday cocktail recipe list. I was first introduced to this festive drink at a Christmas market in France, and it’s a recipe I look forward to making every year.

mugs of stovetop Spiced Wine with cinnamon

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Mulled wine is popular throughout Europe, especially at Christmas, and I was hooked from the first sip.

While I can’t state authoritatively that this is the most traditional mulled wine recipe (there seem to be as many variations of mulled wine as there are European cafés in which to sip them), I’ve made enough batches over the years to state with confidence that this is the best mulled wine recipe.

  • This spiced wine is piping hot.
  • It smells of warm holiday spices, like cinnamon and cloves.
  • It tastes of the childhood nights my sisters and I spent singing unsolicited Christmas carols to our neighbors and convincing my dad to light our wood-burning fireplace: cozy, welcome, and somehow familiar (I feel the same way when it comes to Crockpot Hot Chocolate).
mulled wine with brandy and apple cider

What is Mulled Wine?

  • A traditional mulled wine recipe consists of wine (usually red) that is heated with a mix of whole warming spices and other optional ingredients like apple cider, citrus, and brandy.
  • Spiced wine tastes like a big, fruity red wine crossed with a spicy batch of apple cider, with a hit of spirit and a sprinkle of holiday magic. It’s wonderful.

Other Names for Mulled Wine

Mulled wine goes by many names—spiced wine, hot wine, glögg, glühwein, and vin chaud are a few I hear used interchangeably. As far as I know, they all essentially refer to the same drink, although the spices and booze of choice may vary depending on the region.

5 Star Review

“This is my favorite mulled wine. I do add a little more apple cider and a little more brandy at the end. I also use Merlot and I garnish it just as in the picture. Big hit in my house always.”

— Janice —

How to Make Mulled Wine

I make a batch of homemade spiced wine every season and have been tweaking the recipe over the years to have just the right balance of spice, sweetness, and warmth.

This recipe is my absolute favorite version.

If you’re hosting a holiday gathering, this mulled wine recipe can be made in big batches in the slow cooker for a crowd, or you can quickly whip up a batch on your stovetop.


The Ingredients

  • Red Wine. A dry and richly flavored red wine is perfect for this recipe (save a splash for these Red Wine Truffles too).

What Wine is Best for Mulled Wine?

  • The best wine for mulled wine is dry and full-bodied, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Zinfandel, or Syrah. These will stand up to the other flavors and ensure the spiced wine won’t be too sweet.
  • You can be quite economical with spiced wine. Because of the added flavors, this is a good place to use a budget-friendly bottle. Don’t choose the very bottom shelf, but you can save the super good stuff to enjoy on its own.
  • If you aren’t a fan of red wine, you can also use white wine (check out my recipe for White Spiced Wine).

This time of year, you’ll also see a lot of spiced wine brands selling pre-mixed spiced wine in bottles. Don’t do it.

  • Bottled spiced wine has a tendency to be overly sweet, and its flavor is artificially spiced and flat.
  • Homemade mulled wine is so easy to make yourself; there’s no need to buy it premade.
  • Apple Cider. Where most spiced wine recipes use sugar, I love using apple cider instead. It gives the hot wine a seasonal flavor that tastes just right for this time of year. (If you love cider, try this Apple Cider Cocktail too!)

Substitution Tip!

If you don’t have access to apple cider, apple juice can also be used in this recipe.

Note: Apple cider is NOT the same thing as apple cider vinegar. Do not mistake these two ingredients, as the results will be very disappointing.

  • Honey. A touch of sweetness.
  • Orange. A key to making the best spiced wine (and Brandy Old Fashioned) is balancing different notes of complementary flavors, and the orange juice and orange slices help do just that.

Ingredient Note

While we prefer to stick to just orange in our house, for an additional burst of citrus, you can add slices of lemon or lemon zest to mulled wine too.

  • Spices. I use cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, and star anise for my classic mulled wine spices. Even if you don’t love anise (I’m not usually a fan myself), the flavor here is subtle and gives this spiced wine an extra note of flavor that you don’t want to miss.

Substitution Tip

I don’t recommend ground spices, as they will float on top of the wine and not incorporate properly. Other spice options include allspice berries or whole nutmeg.

  • Brandy. The final edge this spiced wine needs to reach its peak.

The Directions

a pot of a mulled wine recipe simmering
  1. Pour the wine into a large pot or slow cooker.
wine cooking in pot with mulling spices
  1. Add WHOLE spices, apple cider, and orange citrus. Simmer to allow the spices to infuse the wine with their warmth and the other ingredients to marry into a single, delicious drink. Add brandy. ENJOY!

Crockpot Mulled Wine

While this recipe can easily be made on the stove, I love making it a mulled wine crockpot recipe for parties. The slow cooker keeps the stove top free and the spiced wine warm, and it’s easy for guests to access for refills.

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Mulled wine is best enjoyed the day that it is made, but you can refrigerate it for up to 1 day. Let it cool completely, pour it into an airtight storage container and refrigerate.
  • To Reheat. Gently rewarm mulled wine in a large pot on the stovetop over low heat, or pour leftovers into your slow cooker and reheat on LOW until warm. If you choose to reheat your leftover refrigerated mulled wine, be aware that the flavors may not be as vibrant as they are when it’s freshly made.
  • To Freeze. You can freeze mulled wine, then blend it later to turn it into sorbet. First, you will need to cook off all the alcohol. Bring your mulled wine to a boil, and keep it on a rolling boil for around 5 to 6 minutes, so the mixture becomes syrupy, and the alcohol burns off. Let the wine cool completely, then carefully pour the leftovers into the cavities of an ice cube tray and place them in the freezer. Pop the cubes into a food processor with full-fat yogurt, then blend. You also can freeze the wine without cooking off the alcohol; it won’t freeze hard but can be used to make slushies.
mugs of hot mulled wine with orange and anise

What to Serve with Mulled Wine

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

  • Dutch Oven. A deep, wide-rimmed Dutch oven is the perfect vessel for warming mulled wine on the stovetop.
  • Programmable Slow Cooker. This one switches to “keep warm” once the cooking time is done. For crockpot mulled wine, I set it to low or keep warm, depending on the wine’s temperature.
  • Ladle. The easiest way to serve your mulled wine.
mugs of stovetop Spiced Wine with cinnamon

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

mug of easy mulled wine with spices

Every sip of mulled wine (and French Hot Chocolate) makes me want to take a sleigh ride on a starlit night and then warm myself beside a fire in a quaint European café.

On nights when the cold nips my neck and threatens to settle into my bones, nothing warms me to the core like this richly spiced, aromatic drink.

I hope this easy mulled wine recipe brings the same amount of merry to your holiday tradition as it does to ours.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should You Warm Mulled Wine Over Low Heat or High Heat?

Avoid cooking over high heat, as you will cause the alcohol to cook out and the wine to lose some flavor.

Is Mulled Wine Gluten Free?

Yes. Wine is a naturally gluten free beverage, as are the other ingredients in this recipe.

Is Mulled Wine Served Warm?

Yes. Traditionally, mulled wine is served warm, like Apple Cider. However, if you prefer to enjoy your mulled wine at room temperature or chilled, it can also be enjoyed that way too.

Mulled Wine Video

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mugs of stovetop Spiced Wine with cinnamon

Mulled Wine

4.90 from 19 votes
The best mulled wine with brandy, apple cider, and mulling spices for the stovetop or slow cooker. A festive spiced wine for the holidays!

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 35 mins

Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 750 ml red wine (1 bottle) — choose something fruity but not too sweet—Merlot, Zinfandel, or Cabernet Sauvignon all work well
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 orange zested and juiced
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • Orange slices for garnish
  • Cinnamon sticks for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Add wine, cider, honey, orange zest and orange juice to a Dutch oven or similar large pot and stir to combine.
  • Add the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon stick, and star anise. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer gently for 30 minutes; do not let the wine boil.
  • Stir in the brandy. To serve, ladle into mugs and garnish with an orange slice and cinnamon sticks.

Notes

  • DOUBLE BATCH: This recipe scales easily. Feel free to increase the batch size by as much as your pot will hold.
  • TO MAKE IN THE CROCKPOT: Add the wine, cider, honey, orange zest, and orange juice to a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir to combine. Add the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and star anise. Cook on low until warm, 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your slow cooker. Stir in the brandy and serve. To keep the wine warm, leave the slow cooker on the “Keep Warm” setting. If your slow cooker does not have a warm setting, alternate between “Low” and “Off.”
  • TO STORE: Let your mulled wine cool completely, then pour it into an airtight storage container and place it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm mulled wine in a large pot on the stovetop over low heat, or pour leftovers into your slow cooker and reheat on LOW until warm.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 6), about 8 fluid ouncesCalories: 228kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 1gFat: 0.3gSaturated Fat: 0.04gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.04gPotassium: 312mgFiber: 2gSugar: 22gVitamin A: 57IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 45mgIron: 1mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. I have a question which might have an obvious answer, and therefore, seem dumb, and if so, I apologize in advance, but I just have to ask: The directions state that after heating, when ready to serve, just ladle into a mug. But, at what point (if at all) do you strain out the whole spices? Do you ladle the liquid into the cup over a strainer? Or, do you just carefully gather the liquid into the ladle around the floating spices? Like I said, maybe the answer should be obvious, but I just am trying to find out for sure. Thanks!

    1. Hi Dawn! I just carefully get the liquid into the ladle around the spices. If you’d like you can view my video for it so you can see how it looks. Hope this helps!

  2. Hi Erin! I am having an outdoor Christmas party with 60 people and wanted to serve this out of a large urn to keep it warm. After it’s done on the stove I plan on storing it in the fridge per your instructions and then transferring to the urn to reheat on party day. Do you see any issues with this?

    1. Hi Debbie, I haven’t tried it myself but it should work. If you decide to experiment with it, let me know how it goes!

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