Mulled Wine is on my holiday absolute-must list. I was first introduced to this festive drink (also known as spiced wine or hot wine) at a Christmas market in France, and it’s since been a recipe I look forward to making every single year. If you’re entertaining a crowd, this mulled wine recipe can be made in big batches in the slow cooker, 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, and 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, grogg, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  3. Add apple cider.
  4. Add citrus.
  5. Simmer to allow the spices to infuse the wine with their warmth and the other ingredients to marry into a single, delicious drink.
  6. Add brandy.

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 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 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 big pot until it’s warm and all the flavors are thoroughly combined.
  • To Serve. Slowly ladle the hot wine into fun glasses (I use these glasses, which make any warm drink feel extra festive). Garnish with a cinnamon stick and orange slice.

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

5 from 15 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

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 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."

Notes

  • 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.

Nutrition

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 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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104 Comments

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  1. What a great recipe for when you are having a party but don’t have a lot of time to spend on making drinks.

  2. Such an easy way to make spiced wine! I hate spending time on drinks during a party, love that I can get it out of the way ahead of time.

  3. My husband has been wanting to make spiced wine since September, definitely going to point him here, because this looks absolutely amazing!!

  4. Love this story, Erin! It’s so great how a single food or drink item can transport us back to our past. I’m ready to cozy up with some of this mulled wine!

  5. This is so lovely Erin. And food is always better when it comes with such great memories attached. This looks like it would warm me up down to the bones!

  6. I can’t think of a more appropriate winter drink! I feel warmer just looking at the pictures….Just beautiful.

  7. I love mulled wine.. doing it every year.. what a great idea to make it in your slowcooker!! Thanks for inspiring me.

  8. I am looking forward to trying this slow cooker mulled wine recipe – thanks for all the recipes, all look good and instructions are great!

  9. 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. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12.  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.)

  13. Looks like the Ingredients I was looking for. Has been some time since I made this, I couldn’t remember what all went into it. My mother used to make something similar from her days visiting Spain and Germany. She would put this in a crockpot and we would go cross country skiing. When we got home the house smelled wonderful and the wine was warm and delicious. thank you for the tip. Will try on the family tomorrow.5 stars

    1. Ky, thank you for sharing this wonderful memory! A crockpot of spiced wine sounds like the loveliest way to end a day of cross country skiing. I hope your family enjoys this and that it comes close to what your  mother made!

  14. The opening line of the post bugged me a bit, because mulled wine is not a French invention (mulled wine actually was a Roman thing to begin with and is enjoyed throughout Europe during the winter)…but that’s me being nit picky. My husband is from Germany, so I’m going to be making some for Christmas this year!

    1. Hi Kelli, France was the first place I ever experienced mulled wine, so that’s what ties it to that particularly country for me. Wherever it began, I’m glad it spread throughout the world now so that we can all have a glass! Wishing you a Merry Christmas, and I hope you and your husband enjoy it.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. I need to try this! The fact that you made this in the slow cooker makes me so happy! More giggle juice for all!

  19. This sounds very good.  I tried making mulled wine once, but didn’t know to add things like the apple cider.  My stomach can’t handle wine right now, but I’m definitely saving the recipe for when I can drink it.

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

  22. 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. :)

  23. After your wonderful scalloped potatoes on Christmas, we are making this spiced wine for our daughter’s graduation party in Saturday night! We had a German spiced wine on Christmas, but I knew the store would be out of it by now. I had remembered this post amd knew it would work!! Thanks again!5 stars

  24. 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

  25. 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!

  26. 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

  27. 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…)

  28. 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?

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

  30. 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

  31. 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!

  32. 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

  33. 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

  34. It’s a really unique and informative article. Great work! Much appreciated, keep posting many more…. I added it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future and I also have a site5 stars