With its warm spices and cozy flavor, this Mulled Wine recipe is on my must-have holiday cocktail 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.
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Why You’ll Love This Easy Mulled Wine Recipe
- The BEST Recipe. I’ve made enough batches over the years to state with confidence that this is the best mulled wine recipe! 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.
- Tastes Like the Holidays. Traditional mulled wine 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.
- Stovetop or Crockpot Options. 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. (Crockpot Hot Chocolate is another cozy slow cooker drink option for a get-together.)
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 —
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.
Mulled 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.
This time of year, you’ll also see a lot of wine brands selling pre-mixed spiced wine in bottles. Don’t do it. Bottled spiced or mulled 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!
How to Make Mulled Wine
- Red Wine. A dry and richly flavored red wine is perfect for this recipe. If you aren’t a fan of red wine, you can also use white wine (check out my recipe for White Spiced Wine).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Brandy. The final edge this spiced wine needs to reach its peak.
- Add the Wine. Pour the wine into a large pot or slow cooker.
- Simmer. 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!
- To Store. This mulled wine recipe 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.
What to Serve with this Mulled Wine Recipe
- Additional Holiday Cocktail Options. Give your guests a choice of mulled wine or another festive cocktail like my Cranberry St. Germain Cocktail or Apple Cider Mimosa.
- Non-Alcoholic Options. Kids and non-drinkers will appreciate French Hot Chocolate and or a Hot Chocolate bar with marshmallows and candy canes. Or make a big batch of Apple Cider.
- Party Food. Some of my favorites for the holidays are Brie Bites, Whipped Feta Crostini, and Fig Goat Cheese Appetizer Bites.
- Sweet Treats. Red Wine Truffles, Andes Mint Cookies, and Bourbon Balls are all perfect for holiday get-togethers.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Dutch Oven. A deep, wide-rimmed Dutch oven is the perfect vessel for warming this mulled wine recipe 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.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Don’t Buy the Cheapest (or Most Expensive) Wine. You can be quite economical when making this mulled wine recipe. 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.
- Choose the Right Varietal. 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.
- Use Whole Spices. I don’t recommend ground spices, as they will float on top of the wine and not incorporate properly. If you don’t want to invest in big bottles or bags of dried spices, visit a grocery store with a bulk section that has spices, or a spice store that sells smaller quantities.
- Don’t Let It Come to a Boil. You’ll cook off the alcohol!
Mulled Wine Video
Mulled Wine Recipe
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- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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