It goes by many names: spiced wine, glögg, glühwein, vin chaud. Whatever you call it, mulled wine is one of the world’s most classic punch recipes. This hot, spiced wine is often served from fall through the winter months, especially during the holiday season when the blend of wine, brandy, citrus and spices keeps everyone warm, cozy and festive. When you imagine the aroma of Christmastime, mulled wine is what you’re smelling.
The beauty of our mulled wine recipe is its ease: Ingredients come together in minutes, and after some simmering, you chill the spiced mixture, strain it, and serve it with pretty garnishes. Make a small batch for an intimate gathering, or double or triple it for a huge holiday blowout. Take it to go in an insulated beverage bottle—winter tailgating, anyone?—or serve it from a decorative Dutch oven straight from stove to table. It’s simply the perfect wintertime drink.
Mulled Wine Ingredients
- Red wine: You want a nice, young dry or semi-dry red wine with soft tannins for our mulled wine recipe. Merlot, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir are just a few red wine types that work. And it doesn’t have to be a very expensive wine, just something you wouldn’t mind drinking on its own (like a trusty boxed red wine!).
- Brandy: Brandy amps up the alcohol content in mulled wine (read: makes you warm when it’s cold out). If you don’t have any at home, it’s fine to omit. But consider keeping a bottle of brandy around for sipping, cooking and making other types of brandy cocktails.
- Citrus: We use fresh lemon and orange slices in our mulled wine recipe. If you’d like, peel the citrus first, and slice it to keep any extra bitterness at bay. Citrus slices also make a pretty garnish for mulled wine.
- Sugar: We use granulated sugar in our mulled wine recipe. Adjust the amount to your taste.
- Spices: There is a very small amount of ground nutmeg in this recipe. Aside from that, we infuse our mulled wine with whole spices. Cinnamon sticks, whole anise seed, peppercorns, allspice and cloves play a role here.
Step 1: Combine the ingredients together
In a large saucepan or heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, stir together the red wine, brandy, sugar, ground nutmeg, and orange and lemon slices. Place the cinnamon stick, anise seed, peppercorns, allspice and cloves on a piece of cheesecloth that’s been doubled up. Gather the corners of the cloth to enclose the spices, and tie the bundle securely with a piece of string. Add the spice bundle to the other ingredients in the pan.
Editor’s tip: Consider toasting your spices in a dry skillet before bundling them up together in cheesecloth. This will release even more flavor and aromatic compounds in the brew.
Step 2: Simmer the mixture
Set the wine mixture in the pan over medium-high heat, and bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once at a boil, immediately lower the heat, and simmer the wine mixture, covered, for about 20 minutes.
Editor’s tip: You don’t want to cook mulled wine at a roiling boil for too long; doing so will cause the alcohol to evaporate out. Keep it slow and low, as if it’s mulling things over.
Step 3: Cool the mixture
Take the mixture off the stove, and allow it to cool slightly. Then, transfer it to a container, and let it rest for an hour, or until it’s cool enough to cover. Cover the container tightly, and refrigerate the mulled wine overnight.
Editor’s tip: Don’t skip refrigerating the mulled wine. It needs that time for all the spiced flavors to meld together.
Step 4: Strain and reheat the mulled wine
When you’re ready to serve the mulled wine, strain the mixture into a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Discard the fruit and spice bundle. Reheat the mulled wine over low until it’s completely warmed through. Serve the mulled wine warm. If desired, garnish with fresh or dried orange slices, star anise, or cinnamon sticks.
- Play with the aromatics and spices: Play around with the aromatics and spices to make this mulled wine recipe your own. Don’t love anise? Skip it, and instead add more cinnamon or allspice. Add tea bags, like cinnamon tea or chai tea, to the brew while it simmers on the stove. This Finnish mulled wine uses cardamom pods and fresh ginger in addition to cinnamon sticks.
- Use different alcohol: Use whatever liquor you have on hand, such as a flavored brandy or a bourbon. If you prefer a nonalcoholic version, give this hot holiday cider a try.
- Try different fruit: Swap different fruits, such as apples or cranberries, into this mulled wine—or stir in any fruit juice you have on hand. Just be mindful of the sugar content in the recipe if you add fruit juice.
How to Store Mulled Wine
To store your mulled wine, let it cool, then pour it into a container. Cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator for up to three days. To reheat, place it in a pot, and simmer over low heat. You can also reheat it in a slow cooker on low until warm.
How to Freeze Mulled Wine
To freeze your mulled wine, let it cool first. Then transfer it to a freezer-safe airtight container, and freeze for up to three months. Allow the wine to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Mulled Wine Tips
What kind of wine should you use for mulled wine?
This mulled wine recipe was tested with Spanish red wine from the Rioja region, but you can use any dry, fruity red wine. Stay away from sweet wine, which will bring too much sugar to the drink. Have extra red wine? These recipes with wine will put it to good use.
Can you make mulled wine in a slow cooker?
Absolutely! Like this slow-cooker mulled wine, place all of the ingredients in a 1-1/2-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until heated through, approximately four to five hours. You can serve it directly from the slow cooker, too. Just keep it on the lowest setting so it doesn’t overcook.
How do you serve mulled wine?
Ladle the mulled wine into decorative glass mugs to show off the beautiful color and garnishes. Or simply pour it into your fave ceramic mugs! Place a towel next to the pot so guests have a place to put the ladle after pouring. Make mulled wine the centerpiece of your holiday party, surrounded by festive snacks. These fondue recipes would go nicely with it, or look to these charcuterie board ideas for inspiration.
Can you drink cold mulled wine?
It’s OK to drink cold mulled wine, but the flavors and spices really come alive when it’s served warm. This fruity Christmas punch is a perfect cold alternative.