Spiced Wine | Slow Cooker or Stove Top Mulled Wine Recipe

Spiced wine is on my holiday absolute-must list. I was first introduced to this festive drink (also known as mulled 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 recipe can be made in big batches in the slow cooker, or you can quickly whip up a batch on your stovetop.

2 clear coffee mugs of Slow Cooker Spiced WinePin it on Pinterest!

Spiced wine is popular throughout Europe, and I was hooked from the first sip. My first cup was in Lyon, France, Ben remembers having German spiced wine on a trip with his family, and I just 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 too. Chicago’s downtown Christkindlmarket has been going strong for years, and I’m soooo excited because one just opened in Milwaukee. You best believe sampling the spiced wine 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 just the right balance of spice, sweetness, and warmth. This recipe is my absolute favorite version of it and has become a tradition my friends look forward to too.

Spiced wine will fill your home with the welcoming scent of citrus and warm spices. It’s as easy as stirring a few ingredients together on the stove or in the slow cooker, and it is guaranteed to make any evening merrier.

festive hot holiday drinks made with spiced wine

What is Spiced Wine?

Essentially, spiced wine is 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.

To this day, every sip transports me back to the winding outdoor Christmas market in France where I first tried it all those years ago.

What is Spiced Wine Called?

  • Spiced wine goes by many names—mulled 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.

Star anise, cinnamon sticks, clove, and cardamom pods, all ready for making Easy Spiced Wine in a slow cooker

How Do You Make Spiced Wine? 

Spiced wine is one of the most simple, warming, and satisfying drink recipes you can make. Here’s how to make THE BEST spiced wine.

  • Pour the Wine into a Large Pot or, if you are making it for a crowd, the slow cooker.
  • Add WHOLE Spices. I use cardamom, cinnamon sticks, and star anise, and it is perfect. 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.
  • Add 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.
  • Add Citrus. 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.
  • Simmer. You can either heat the wine in your crock pot or on the stove. Simmering allows the spices to infuse the wine with their warmth and the other ingredients to marry into a single, delicious drink.
  • Add Brandy. It’s the final edge this spiced wine needs to reach its peak.

How to Serve Spiced Wine – Slow Cooker or Stove Top?

  • While this recipe can easily be made on the stove, for parties I love making it in the slow cooker. The slow cooker keeps the stove top free and the spiced wine warm, and it’s easy for guests to access for refills.
  • You can also simmer the wine on the stove in a big pot.
  • 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.

2 mugs of mulled wine made in a slow cooker

What Wine is Best for Mulled Wine?

  • Choose 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.

glasses of spiced wine made in a crock pot, garnished with cinnamon, orange slices and star anise

The Best Slow Cooker Spiced 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.

Every sip 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 it brings the same amount of merry to your holiday tradition as it does to ours.

mugs of Slow Cooker Spiced Wine
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Slow Cooker Spiced Wine

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time:
5 mins
Cook Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
35 mins
Hot Spiced Wine—the best mulled wine with brandy, apple cider, and spices. This traditional mulled wine is festive, easy, and perfect for parties!

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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."

Recipe Notes

  • To make this recipe 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.
  • This recipe scales easily. Feel free to increase the batch size by as much as your slow cooker or pot will hold.
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Easy Mulled Wine Recipe, Slow Cooker Spiced Wine

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (1 (of 6), about 8 fluid ounces) — Calories: 222, Sodium: 26mg, Carbohydrates: 26g, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 26g

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