Mulled Wine is on my holiday cocktail recipes must 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. 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.

Traditional mulled wine crockpot recipe served in glasses with cinnamon

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

  • My first cup was in Lyon, France.
  • Ben remembers having German mulled wine on a trip with his family.
  • Last November I sipped a delightful cup at a small market in Spain, despite the fact that it was 60 degrees and cold spiced wine might have been more appropriate. Let nothing stop the merry making!

Here in the U.S., outdoor Christmas markets like the one I visited in France are popping up right and left.

Chicago’s downtown Christkindlmarket has been going strong for years, and I’m soooo excited because one has also opened in Milwaukee.

You best believe I sample the spiced wine each year for additional holiday inspiration.

Fortunately, no matter where you live, spiced wine is incredibly simple to make in your own kitchen.

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. It is the ideal combination of mulled wine spices and has become a tradition my friends look forward to every year.

Healthy mulled wine recipe made in a slow cooker and served in glasses with cinnamon sticks

What is Mulled Wine?

  • A traditional mulled wine recipe consists of wine (usually red) that is heated with the cook’s preferred mix of spices, along with optional ingredients like apple cider and citrus, along with optional (or not optional) additions like brandy.
  • Spiced wine 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.

What is Mulled Wine Called?

  • 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.

The Best Mulled Wine Recipe

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, smells of cloves and cinnamon, and 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 about this delicious Healthy Hot Chocolate).

How Do You Make Mulled Wine?

Mulled wine will fill your home with the welcoming scent of citrus and warm spices. It’s is one of the most simple, warming, and satisfying drink recipes you can make.

The Ingredients

  • Red Wine. A dry and richly flavored red wine is perfect for this recipe.
  • 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. The orange might seem like an odd addition, but TRUST ME. A key to making the best spiced wine is balancing different notes of complementary flavors, and the orange helps do just that. For an additional burst of citrus, add a sliced lemon or lemon zest (we stick to just the orange).
  • Spices. I use cardamom, cinnamon sticks, and star anise for my mulled wine spices. Even if you don’t love anise (I’m not usually a fan myself), the flavor here is subtle, well balanced, and gives this spiced wine an extra note of flavor that you don’t want to miss.
    • 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 nutmeg.
  • Brandy. The final edge this spiced wine needs to reach its peak.

The Directions

  1. Pour the wine into a large pot or slow cooker.
  2. Add WHOLE spices, apple cider, and orange citrus.
  3. 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!


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

Star anise, cinnamon sticks, clove, and cardamom pods for making spiced wine crockpot recipe

What Wine is Best for Mulled Wine?

  • The best wine for mulled wine is something dry and full bodied like Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, 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 make use of a more 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 artificially spiced and flat.
  • Homemade mulled wine is so easy to make yourself and so superior, there’s no need to buy it premade.
Healthy mulled wine recipe made in the slow cooker served in glasses with cinnamon sticks

How to Serve Mulled Wine

  • Slow Cooker. While this recipe can easily be made on the stove, for parties I love making it a mulled wine crockpot recipe. The slow cooker keeps the stove top free and the spiced wine warm, and it’s easy for guests to access for refills.
  • Stove Top. You can also let this recipe simmer on the stove in a large saucepan until it’s warm and all the flavors are thoroughly combined.
  • To Serve. Slowly ladle the hot wine into fun glasses (I use glass mugs, which make any warm drink feel extra festive).
  • Garnishes. Make your holiday cocktail feel extra special and garnish mulled wine with an orange peel (I use a vegetable peeler to remove it) or lemon peels, fresh cranberries, and a cinnamon stick.

How to Store, Reheat, and Freeze Mulled Wine

  • To Store. Let your slow cooker mulled wine cool completely, then pour it into an airtight storage container and place 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.
  • To Freeze. You can freeze mulled wine, then blend it up later to turn it into sorbet. First, you need to cook off all of the alcohol (bring your mulled wine to the 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 leftovers into the cavities of an ice cube tray and place 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.
  • 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.
Two glasses of spiced wine crockpot garnished with cinnamon sticks, orange, and star anise

What to Serve with Mulled Wine

Recommended Tools for Making Mulled Wine

  • Programmable Slow Cooker. This one switches to “keep warm” once the cooking time is done. For mulled wine, I set it to low or keep warm, depending upon the wine’s temperature.
  • Ladle. The easiest way to serve your mulled wine.

Every sip of mulled wine 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.

mugs of Slow Cooker Spiced Wine

Mulled Wine

4.92 from 25 votes
The best traditional mulled wine recipe with brandy, apple cider, and mulling spices. This hot spiced wine is festive, easy, and perfect for parties!

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

Servings: 6 servings


  • 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 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.
  • Ladle into mugs and serve with an orange slice and cinnamon sticks. 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.”


  • This recipe scales easily. Feel free to increase the batch size by as much as your slow cooker or pot will hold.
  • TO MAKE ON THE STOVE: simmer the wine, apple cider, orange zest and juice, and spices in a large pot or Dutch oven the stove over low heat for 30 minutes, instead of heating in the slow cooker. Do not let the wine boil Add the brandy and serve.
  • TO STORE: Let your slow cooker mulled wine cool completely, then pour it into an airtight storage container and place 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.


Serving: 1(of 6), about 8 fluid ouncesCalories: 222kcalCarbohydrates: 26gSodium: 26mgFiber: 1gSugar: 26g

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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 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. This recipe sounds incredible and I can’t wait to try it! Can you please tell me if you use the spiced apple cider that has cinnamon and spices already in it? Or do you mean plain apple cider?
    Thank you!

      1. Hi Jansen! Located in the recipe card under Step 1, gives you details on when to add it. It is after you cook it. Hope this helps!

    1. Hello! Super excited to try this recipe out. I’m not too familiar with apple cider. Do you use alcoholic or non-alcoholic apple cider? Thanks and Merry Christmas!

      1. Hi Flora! This is non-alcoholic apple cider. If the recipe called for the alcoholic version I would be very specific about it. Hope this helps! Merry Christmas!

  2. Can I use orange skins peeled with a veggie peeler instead of zest? Won’t the zest from a zester float on top or will it dissolve into the wine?

    1. Hi Pamela! I’ve only tested this recipe as written, but you could try using peeled orange skins if you prefer. Just make sure all the white pith is removed before adding them to the slow cooker.

    1. Hi Samra! I do personally love mulled wine with brandy, but I think you could play around with a spiced rum instead. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  3. I looked at a number of mulled wine recipes and liked this recipe the best because of all the wonderful spices and apple cider that are added. Actually, I brought it to a friend’s party last year and everyone raved about it. Will be making it for Thanksgiving this year! Thanks so much for the recipe Erin!5 stars

  4. I spent week before Christmas in London once and it’s tradition to have a big crockpot of mulled red wine behind the bar in every pub. I drank it almost all day every day and I love to make it at Christmas time every year since and it brings back great memories.

    1. Hi Sarah! I’ve only tested the recipe as written, so it would be an experiment. Omitting the cloves will alter the taste a little, but I think it will still be delicious. I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!

  5. Thank you Erin for this delicious recipe. I made this wine last holiday season and it was a huge hit. My husband requested I make it again this year so I’m making a double batch for friends and family. Happy Holidays!5 stars

  6. Used a cab for this recipe…had to add a lot more honey as there was too much of a peppery finish at the end. Not sure if it was the wine variety as I’ve previously made mulled wine with merlot…4 stars

    1. Joy, I am sorry to hear that you didn’t love this. If it came out peppery, that was definitely the wine since this recipe doesn’t call for pepper. If you try it with a more fruity wine (like merlot or pinot noir), I think you’ll enjoy it more next time. I know it’s disappointing to try a new recipe and not have it come out, so I truly wish you would have loved this

  7. I made this mulled wine in a slow cooker for Christmas Eve. Everyone enjoyed it – including my 2 skeptical 20 yo nieces who don’t yet appreciate red wine. It was easy to pull together while multitasking for the holidays (cooking, wrapping, etc.); I didn’t need to use the stovetop (which was busy enough); and it was a special addition to our celebration. I think I will make this an annual tradition!5 stars

  8. This recipe was amazing and easy to follow; my family loved it I made it for New Years Eve! It was very fragranced and great addition to the holiday drink line up!5 stars

  9. I changed the recipe as I did not include cider or brandy. InsteadI chopped an organic apple and added, like in a Sangria or Pimms. Also added another half a cup of orange juice, the one with pulp. Simmered on a gas job. Delicious:)4 stars

  10. This did NOT taste like mulled wine cider. I tried to make this for 2X servings with every single ingredient. There was WAYYY TOO MUCH VINEGAR. I had acid reflux after drinking it and had to find a way to neutralize the taste because 4 cups of apple cider vinegar to 2 bottles of wine was absurd. All the other mulled wine recipes did not include apple cider vinegar. I don’t know where I went wrong.

    1. Bea, the problem is that recipe calls for apple cider, NOT apple cider vinegar. If you make it with apple cider (the juice, drinking kind) it will be much much better!

  11. I am having a really hard time reading the recipe. The ads keep popping up, forcing the webpage content to reflow, so wide paragraphs suddenly become narrow ones, and some flashy ads are distracting and can’t be closed. I gave up and went to the next site with a mulling recipe.

    1. Hi Richard! I’m truly sorry for any inconvenience the ads caused you! I will certainly keep paying close attention to the number of ads and how they load, as I never want them to hinder your ability to view the recipe or the blog post. I do truly appreciate your feedback and apologize again for the inconvenience!

  12. I’ve made spice wine for years now, but I have to say this is the best flavors combine that has me rating this recipe a five stars. Rarely do I ever rate 5 stars, but Erin definitely earned it! Thank you Erin for sharing this new magnificent family traditional recipe we truly have been enjoying it!5 stars

  13. 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. Thank you for such a great recipe.5 stars

  14. I’ve made this a couple of times now and I love it, but lately I’ve been swapping the honey for maple syrup and I like the sweetness and flavor it gives. I also like it better when I strain it and store it in the fridge for a day or two, then reheat. So far I’ve tried this with a merlot and a cab, and I think the merlot worked better with it.5 stars

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