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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96 Comments

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  1. Hi Erin! So I started making this for a party tonight and mixed in the brandy with all of the other ingredients instead of waiting to stir it in later…eek! Do you think it still will be OK? Thanks for the recipe by the way!!

    1. Hi Lorraine! I’m sure you’ll be just fine :-) Thanks so much for trying the recipe, and I hope you guys love it!

    1. This is a great question Melanie! It does still contain alcohol. I can’t give you an actual % because it will vary depending upon the wine you use and how long/at what temperature you simmer the spices, but there will still be some left in the wine, and the brandy stirred in at the end adds some too. Overall, it’s not super boozy, but it is certainly alcoholic.

    2. I made this for our winter solstice gathering last night. It was delicious. I’ve been wanting to make it since having it in Leavenworth Wa.. I used some cherry brandy I made this summer. ( I live in cherry land in Eastern Washington).
      The cherry brandy gave an extra taste that was noticeable. I did not have apple cider so I used hard cider.
      I appreciated the use of honey over sugar as well.
      I’ll be making this again.

  2. Made your mulled wine last night for a nice quiet New Years Eve sitting in front of the fireplace…it was delicious and looks to become a new family tradition! We had just the tiniest bit left over (maybe 1 cup) so I saved it and today poured it into a glass loaf pan, placed a pear that had been halved and cored in the liquid and baked it at 400 F for 20 minutes and made the best poached pears in wine for brunch! Served over plain yogurt, sprinkled with toasted, slivered almonds, it was delicious! Thanks for a SMASHING Christmas recipe!5 stars

    1. Kat, that sounds like such a wonderful evening, and I am so glad that you enjoyed this recipe! Thanks for taking time to let me know. Also, your poached pears sound absolutely divine. I plan to save some wine from my next batch so that I can try it too!

  3. planning to make this tomorrow for my Halloween dinner and will use my Tomasello spiced apple wine in the recipe! :~)

    1. Yay! The spiced apple wine sounds so good. Just an idea: if it’s a super sweet wine, you might taste the mixture before you add the honey, just to make sure it’s not too sweet. I hope you love every sip and Happy Halloween!

  4.  I want to make this so bad!  But I can’t find green cardamom pods in any of my local supermarkets.  Will this still taste the same without it or if I use ground cardamom?

    1. Oh bummer! Omitting the cardamom will change the flavor somewhat, but it won’t be catastrophic by any means :) You could stir in a few teaspoons of ground cardamom, but it will make the wine a little cloudy. Another idea is just to omit it completely and increase the quantity of the other spices. I’d try adding an extra cinnamon stick or two and see what you think. (Just FYI I found my cardamom pods at Penzeys Spices. Not sure if you have one in your area, but I wanted to let you know, just in case.)

  5. I’ve never bought brandy before. What should I buy? Any recommendation?
    I hope I can find all the spices at the grocery store. I can’t wait to try this recipe.

    1. Hi Lea! I love Korbel. It’s good and affordable. If you can’t find the spices at your regular grocery store, you can try a spice store like Penzeys. I hope you love the recipe!

  6. Hi. When you say ‘apple cider’ do you mean apple cider vinegar, or alcoholic apple cider? Terminology varies from country to country. Thanks.

    1. Hi Kelda! Actually neither. I mean regular apple cider. It is similar to apple juice, but is usually unfiltered and lightly spiced.

  7. Hi Erin,
    If we don’t finish the wine since there are only 3 of us, will it hold in a container in the fridge and then just need reheating? How long do you think it will last?

    1. Hi Brian, I would recommend scaling the recipe down for three people instead of saving leftovers…sadly, it just doesn’t taste the same once reheated. You can also make the smaller batch in a pot on the stove, too, if the slow cooker is too big!

    1. Hi Jill! Yes, I think it would work great! I’d recommend adding an extra stick of cinnamon since cider often has a cinnamon flavor of its own.

  8. Hi there! This looks delicious! I am having a hard time finding star anise. I can find anise seed and ground anise. What would you recommend? 

    1. Hi Stacey, I’d recommend leaving it out if you can’t find whole star anise. Some stores have a spice section, often near the produce, that sells spices in plastic bags instead of in glass bottles—I’ve had luck finding it there before!

    1. Hi Victoria, yes this can be doubled! You would double everything, including the spices. I hope you enjoy!

  9. Recipe calls for 1 whole star anise… but I noticed there’s one in each cup (photo). Do you recommend we use them as garnish too?

    1. Hi Debbie, yes, that will work! Your wine will just be a little more spiced. If you’re concerned it might be too much, you could cut back on the other spices.

  10. Erin, 
    Really enjoyed this! I have made others and his was one of the best! The warmth and just the right amount of ‘spiciness’, I have saved this and will bring the recipe out again and again ?5 stars

    1. YAY Sandy, I’m happy to hear you loved the recipe! Thanks so much for giving it a try and leaving this wonderful review. :)

  11. My slow cooker just went from my least used appliance to my most used! This took me right back to the alps and went over great with all my thanksgiving guests. You’ve given us a new holiday meal tradition.5 stars

  12. I cannot wait to make this for my New Year’s Eve party! I was wondering if you recommend a brand of wine or what wine brands you have used with this as I am not too much of wine drinker and am not sure what to get.

    1. Cassie, I think a cabernet sauvignon is a great choice for this recipe. 14 Hands and Josh are two big brands that are generally pretty widely available and that we enjoy!

  13. I made this for my cookie exchange this weekend and they LOVED it! I’m going to make this for my family gathering on Christmas eve. So festive and delicious. I used Cabernet Sauvignon. I served with a cinnamon stick and a star anise floating on top. I have had spiced wine before and never was it this delicious and so easy to serve from the slow cooker. Just the right amount of flavors that compliment each other so well. Thank you for the recipe. This will be an annual holiday tradition!5 stars

  14. What would it be like If I add the brandy at the end… So the alcohol doesn’t cook out if it??? (Yes I do like a little festive in my drink…)

  15. Hi there!! Looking forward to making this tomorrow night! I have had one mulled wine I loved before, and its shining glory was that it wasn’t too sweet, which is the main complaint I’ve heard from my family! How sweet would you say this one is, and maybe can I add the honey slowly in increments and test it?

  16. Soooo yummy! We served this for Christmas Eve last year and everyone loved it! Definitely making it again this year. 5 stars

  17. My favorite drink for winter! Especially love the smell of cinnamon sticks and star anise!
    Feel warm and healthy to fight the cold:)5 stars

  18. Hi Erin, this recipe looks wonderful and I’d like to set some out for the carolers in my neighborhood. We are not brandy drinkers and I would have to go out and buy some, along with spices I would not normally use. However, I am well stocked with all types of scotch, whiskey, rye, etc. Would any of those be a suitable substitute? Or should I just break down and just by the dang brandy? 

    1. Helene, I do personally love mulled wine with brandy, but I think you could play around with a sweeter/smoother alcohol instead; spiced rum is popular. The next idea I have based on what you said you have in stock is a smooth bourbon…maybe taste test a little before you pour it into the whole batch. I’ve also heard good things about splashing in an orange liqueur like Cointreau. The spices are definitely the most important thing though so if you need to prioritize and don’t want to buy another bottle of alcohol, you can always omit the brandy too.

      1. Hi, I love your recipe and your video. You seem like a truely sweet person.

        I am doing DYI spiced wine kits for my girlfriends for Christmas. I have all the ingredients I need except honey. I bought sugar in the raw cane sugar that I read in another recipe before seeing this one. Do you think that would be okay in place of honey? How much do you think I should use?

        Thanks and Merry Christmas! (:

        1. Hi Kendra, thank you so much for your kind words! I have not tried the recipe this way, but I believe it should turn out fine. The amount of sugar will depend on how sweet you want the mulled wine to be. I hope your friends enjoy the recipe!

  19. Just made this for a party and I’m so glad I made a double recipe, because it was a hit! So delicious–will definitely make it again!5 stars

  20. Thank you for a great recipe! I’m hosting a get together tomorrow and this would be a perfect addition. Maybe these are stupid questions but I don’t use spices often. When you mean 1 whole star anise did you mean just 1 single star? as well as 5 cloves being just 5 tiny whole cloves for the whole batch? Thank you!

    1. Hi Rachael, I’m happy to help! Yes, it is just 1 single whole star anise and 5 whole cloves. I hope this helps and that you enjoy the recipe!

      1. Thanks Erin! I also just noticed that there was a video. Oops I must have scrolled right past it. It was a great hit! Best mulled wine I’ve ever made! I think I let him heat for too long and it wasn’t boozy but it was so good!! 5 stars

  21. 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!

  22. 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!

  23. 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

    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!

  24. 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

  25. 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

  26. 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

  27. 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

  28. 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

  29. 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

  30. 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

  31. 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

  32. 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!

  33. 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!