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Mulled wine is a drink made using red wine, spices, raisins, and fruits. It can be drunk hot or cold, and can even be made without alcohol. For those who want the perfect Halloween or Christmas drink, there's no drink that matches up to the delicious spiced wine.

When it comes to spending the chilly winter evenings at home, nothing is better to keep you warm and toasty than a mug of mulled wine. Something about the spicy, rich drink makes it absolutely wonderful, and you feel the warmth all the way to your core.

Check out our tips on How to Serve Mulled Wine​

Check out our guide on How to Make Mulled Cider

What is Mulled Wine?

Mulled wine is an alcoholic drink almost always made with red wine, though cider and non-alcoholic versions exist. Mulled wine is usually made with either a fruity red wine or port, as these give the mulled wine a sweeter, more enjoyable flavor.

To make mulled wine, the wine is poured into a pot (or a slow cooker), where it is heated and has spices and fruits added. Many people wonder "What is in mulled wine?" You'll find that the average mug of mulled wine has:

  • Oranges
  • Plums

There are also a number of spices for mulled wine

  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Orange peel/zest
  • Anis
  • Bay leaf

There are many more mulled wine spices that you can use, but these are the more "traditional" spices for mulled wine. If you want to know how to make mulled wine with mulling spices, you'll be best off adding these to your wine.

How to Make Mulled Wine: The History of Mulled Wine

Before we get into how to make mulled wine, let’s have a bit of history.

Wine has been around for thousands of years - with the oldest winery (yet found) discovered in Armenia, dating back to 4100 BC. But what we know as mulled wine today dates back at least to the Roman Era, roughly the 2nd Century AD. This is the first recorded example of wine that had been heated and spiced. However, Homer's Odyssey mentions a blend of wine and spices that are similar to mulled wine.

The Roman army brought wine with them all around the continent, which is why France, Spain, England, Germany, and many other European countries currently produce wines. Thanks to the Roman legions, spiced wines are popular around the world.

Germany is famous for its Glühwein, which means "glow wine". This drink dates back to the 1400s, proving that the drink had become popular by the Middle Ages.

How to Make Mulled Wine at Home: The Best Wine for Mulled Wine

When studying up on how to make mulled wine at home, one common question is what is the best wine for mulled wine. The good news is that there’s no need to spend a lot of money, cheaper wine is often the best option.

When you heat the wine, some of the flavour compounds are destroyed (which is why it's recommended that wine is stored out of heat and direct sunlight). The mulling spices used are also very strong, so they can drown out the subtler flavours of the wine.

This is why it's always best to find a cheaper wine, one without all the subtle flavours and aromas. You want a simple wine with bold flavours that will complement the mulled wine spices, and one that isn't too pricey. You also want something that is smooth, without too many tannins. (Remember: tannins turn bitter during the heating process.)

Here are a few excellent wines to use for mulled wine:

  • Adobe Syrah Reserva - This Chilean wine has a spicy, smoky flavour, with hints of blackcurrant. The mouth feel is soft and voluptuous, without strong tannins. It's a wine you'll definitely want to try for your spiced wine.
Adobe Syrah Reserva best for mulled wine

Adobe Syrah Reserva

  • Domaine de Brau Gabriel Merlot IGP Pays d'Oc - For those who want an "Old World" flavour for their mulled wine, this Merlot from Languedoc offers rich flavours of spices and black plums. The rounded tannins make the wine easy to drink, and ideal for mulling with spices.
Domaine de Brau Gabriel Merlot IGP Pays d'Oc

Domaine de Brau Gabriel Merlot IGP Pays d'Oc

  • Mas de Longchamp Rouge IGP Alpilles - Yet another French wine, this one is a blend of Grenache and Merlot. The wine is easily drinkable, with cheerful flavours of mellow fruits. The rounded tannins make it a great wine for drinking, both on its own or turned into spiced wine.
 Mas de Longchamp Rouge IGP Alpilles

Mas de Longchamp Rouge IGP Alpilles

  • DOC Rioja Livor- There's something wonderfully earthy about this Rioja, produced by the organic estate of Viña Ijalba. Made from Tempranillo grapes, it has strong flavours of raspberry jam, and it's as smooth as velvet. Definitely a wine to use for your mulled wines.
DOC Rioja Livor

DOC Rioja Livor

  • Toscar Tempranillo - This Tempranillo comes from La Mancha, and you'll find it's a wine perfect for easy drinking. The flavours are somewhere between dark cherries and soft strawberries, meaning it will blend perfectly with the spices you use for your mulled wine.
Toscar Tempranillo

Toscar Tempranillo

These are some of the best wines to use for your mulled wine, but they are far from the only ones. Look for other types of wine to try, and get creative when searching for mulled wine recipes. Why not try adding the same spices to Dunkerton’s Premium Organic Cider for a deliciously different mulled cider.

One of the best things about mulled wine is that it's an excellent way to re-use or re-purpose opened bottles of wine. A bottle of red will usually only last for 3 to 7 days, even if the bottle is properly corked or stoppered. 

When you make mulled wine, the spices soften the acidity of the wine, and the result is a smooth, well-flavoured drink. You can use old wine to make this drink, and it will save you having to pop the cork on a new bottle.

mulled wine spices

Tips on Making Mulled Wine

If you're going to make your own mulled wine, here are a few tips to help you do it right:​

Mix and match

Who says that mulled wine needs to be made ONLY with wine? You can add a wide range of spirits and liqueurs to give your spiced wine better flavours. For example, if you're adding oranges into your mulled wine, why not mix in some Da Mhile Orange Liqueur?

The English estate of Pennard make a number of excellent products that can be used in mulled wine. The Organic Mead can be used instead of red wine as a base, or the Ginger or Mead Liqueurs can be used as an extra ingredient.

Get creative with the spices

The spices traditionally used to make mulled wine are cloves, nutmeg, star anise, and cinnamon, but they aren't your only option. Why not try adding ginger, vanilla pods, bay leaves, allspice, cardamom, or any other spice you want?

You'll find that these spices can provide a unique variation to the classic recipe, giving you a new take on a classic.

Add sugar

Adding sugar into your mulled wine helps to reduce the heaviness of the alcohol, and it counteracts the strong spices. Stir the sugar into the wine early on in the process, as that will help it to dissolve into the wine, infusing it with sweetness and life.

Honey and liqueurs can also be used in place of sugar, and it will add a whole new dimension to your wine's flavours.

Follow the instructions carefully

If you don't, you may end up with something that looks and smells like mulled wine, but which tastes funky. Place the pot on the stove to heat for 10 to 15 minutes, keeping the heat nice and low. Don't let the wine boil, as that will affect the flavours negatively.

Once the mixture is heated (just before boiling), remove it from the stove and let it sit for half an hour. This will infuse the drink with flavour, making the mulled wine come alive. After the wine has sat, reheat it and enjoy.

Try white

Instead of making mulled wine with only red wine, why not try making your own using white wine? The lighter, brighter flavours of white wine pair beautifully with lemon, rosemary, thyme, vanilla, and lighter spices.

You can even make it with cider, as well as apple and pear juice for alcohol-free versions of mulled wine.​

Check out our tips on How to Make the Perfect Mulled Cider.

Your Easy Mulled Wine Recipe

Want to know how to make mulled wine in a few minutes? Here is a simple recipe to try that will produce a batch of delicious traditional mulled wine:

Ingredients:

mulled wine easy recipe
  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 1 orange
  • 2 cups of water
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • Ground cloves
  • Cinnamon

Preparation:

  1. To begin, open the bottle of wine and pour it into a pot. Place the pot on a medium heat. Pour the water into the mixture, and let it begin to heat.
  2. Add in the sugar once you see the heat rising from the wine, and stir well to let it absorb into the wine. Grate a bit of the zest from the orange, and add it into the mixture. Slice the orange into thin pieces (like you would see for a garnish), and add them into the pot with 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon (or a couple of cinnamon sticks) and 1 teaspoon of cloves (either ground or whole).
  3. Let the mixture heat for 10 to 15 minutes, but don’t let it boil. Let the wine sit for half an hour, covered with a lid to keep the heat trapped inside. Once 30 minutes have passed, return the wine to the stove and re-heat. When it reaches your preferred temperature, serve and enjoy!
  4. This recipe is brilliantly simple and easy to follow, but the mulled wine it produces will be delicious. In just 45 minutes, you have four to six mugs of spiced wine to enjoy.​

How to Make Mulled Wine in a Slow Cooker

Instead of making your mulled wine on the stove, why not try making it in the slow cooker?

A slow cooker won't boil the wine, but will slowly heat it. During the heating process, the wine is absorbing the flavours of the sugar, the oranges, and all the spices. By the time you're ready to drink the wine, it has more flavour than you get from mulled wine made on the stove. The only downside is the cook time: up to 2 hours.

Here is a simple slow cooker mulled wine recipe to follow:

Ingredients:

Mulled Wine
  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • ¼ cup of brandy
  • ½ cup of water
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Allspice
  • Star anise
  • Cloves
  • Cardamom 
  • 8 Clementines

Preparation:

  1. Mix the wine, water, brandy, and sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add in 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon or three cinnamon sticks, and a teaspoon of allspice and cardamom each. Sprinkle in four star anise and half a tablespoon of cloves--ground or whole. Cut the clementines into small pieces and add.
  2. Turn the slow cooker onto medium heat, and cover. Let the cooker do its thing, bringing the wine to a gentle simmer. Turn the dial down to low heat, and keep it cooking for a few more minutes. Once you see it beginning to simmer, turn it to the "Keep Warm" setting. You'll need to let it sit for about half an hour before you serve.

Check our Guide on Drinking and Serving Mulled Wine

Mulled wine is an amazing drink, one that is perfect for Christmas, or any time in winter. Thankfully, it's beautifully easy to make, and a brilliant addition to your seasonal menu!

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