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.
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).
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.
- Red Wine. A dry and richly flavored red wine is perfect for this recipe (save a splash for these Red Wine Truffles too).
- 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!)
- 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.
- Pour the wine into a large pot or slow cooker.
- 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. 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.
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.
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
Avoid cooking over high heat, as you will cause the alcohol to cook out and the wine to lose some flavor.
Yes. Wine is a naturally gluten free beverage, as are the other ingredients in this recipe.
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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- 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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