Is there a more cozy drink than hot mulled wine? This fragrant red wine is infused with citrus fruits, spices and sugar to create the ultimate hot drink for a cold winter night. It’s perfect to serve up around Christmas time or to enjoy next to a crackling fireplace. Your house will smell like Christmas when you cook up a batch of this delicious infused red wine.
What is mulled wine?
Sugar and spice and everything nice… that’s mulled wine in one sentence. Mulled wine is a delicious and festive winter drink that is very popular around the holidays. It’s made with red wine, citrus fruits, winter spices and sugar. These ingredients are combined and warmed up so all the aromatics are infused into the wine. This creates a unique blend of flavours that’s perfect for the winter season.
Mulled wine is very popular in Europe around Christmas time and depending on the country it goes by different names. Glühwein, vin chaud, glögg and spiced wine are just a few of the other names you might encounter when visiting a Christmas market.
Served hot in a heatproof glass or mug, mulled wine is a cosy and warm drink that's like Christmas in a mug.
If you're looking for an alcohol-free version of a spiced wine then serve this Non-Alcoholic Mulled Wine at your next festive get-together so everyone can join in the holiday fun! It's made with grape and cranberry juice as a base and tastes just as good as the boozy version!
Mulled wine ingredients
There are many different recipes for mulled wine, but the basics are always the same. You need the following four types of ingredients:
- Wine: A full-bodied red wine works best when making mulled wine. You want a wine with a bold flavour that can stand up to all the added spices and sugar. I always use a Cabernet Sauvignon to make this recipe. Go for a wine you also like to drink but don’t use a super expensive bottle. A middle-of-the-range wine works just fine.
- Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits add loads of fruitiness and flavour to the mulled wine. I always use a combination of orange, lemon and lime. Use a speed peeler to thinly peel the fruits and use both the peel and the juice. Optionally, you can garnish the mugs with an extra orange slice.
- Spices: Always use whole spices instead of powders when it comes to mulling wine. Whole spices are more potent and can easily be sieved out after mulling. A combination of cloves, nutmeg, star anise, bay leaves, cinnamon and vanilla is what I use, but you can experiment with different spices to create a version you love.
- Sweetener: For years I’ve made this recipe with brown sugar, which adds a lovely caramel-like flavour to the wine. Recently I’ve changed it to raw cane sugar, which is slightly less processed. Other options are maple syrup, honey, agave nectar or even coconut sugar.
How to make the best mulled wine?
To make mulled wine you need a heavy-bottomed pan, a speed peeler, a citrus juicer, a sieve, a soup ladle and heatproof glasses or mugs.
Making mulled wine is an easy and fun activity to get into the holiday spirit. It also makes your kitchen smell like Christmas! Simply combine all the ingredients in a large pot over medium heat and let the wine infuse.
Step 1: Prepare your ingredients
Use a heavy-bottomed pan like a Dutch oven to make the mulled wine. Use a speed peeler to remove thin layers of peel from the citrus fruits, then juice the citrus fruits afterwards. Add the sugar, citrus peel and juice, and all the spices to the pan. Cut the vanilla bean in half, lengthwise, and scrape out the vanilla seeds with a knife. Add both the seeds and the vanilla bean halves to the pan. Finally, add about a glass worth of wine to the pan.
Step 2: Let the mixture turn into a syrup
Heat up the pan on medium heat and let it simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and let it boil for a couple of minutes until the mixture has turned into a thick syrup. By making a syrup you’re extracting as much flavour as you can from the spices and fruits, this way it will blend easily with the wine.
Step 3: Infuse (or mull) the wine
Once the mixture has turned into a syrup turn the heat down low and add the rest of the wine. Give it a stir and let it simmer on a low heat for about 5 minutes, do not let it boil. Then turn the stove off, cover the pan and let the wine infuse for another 1-2 hours. This way you get as much flavour from the spices as possible.
Step 4: Strain the wine
Nobody wants to drink a chunky wine so we’re going to strain the wine first. The easiest way to do this is by using a sieve and a soup ladle. Use the ladle to pour the mixture through a sieve into a jug. Use the jug to pour the mulled wine into bottles or containers.
Step 5: Store and serve the wine
When you want to serve the wine pour it into a pot and reheat it slowly on the stovetop. Do not boil it, you just want to warm it through. Serve the mulled wine in heatproof glasses or mugs. Optionally, you can garnish the drink with a slice of orange, a cinnamon stick and a star anise.
How to serve mulled wine?
Reheat the mulled wine in a pot on the stove on low heat. Use a soup ladle to scoop out the wine from the pot to a mug.
Make sure you use mugs or glasses that are heat proof. Glass mugs look pretty because you can see the wine and any garnishes you use, but any type of mug will work just fine.
Serve the mulled wine warm to fully enjoy it’s cozy winter flavours. It’s delicious on its own or combine the wine with some festive snacks. Mulled wine tastes surprisingly delicious combined with a cheese platter!
Tips & Alternatives
Citrus fruits: Switch up your citrus fruits. You can use any combination of oranges, lemons, limes and even clementines. This way you can change up the flavour of your mulled wine and use whatever citrus fruit is available to you.
Make it in bulk: This recipe is for two bottles of wine, but it can easily be scaled up or down. Make sure to scale all the ingredients so the ratios stay the same.
Mulled Wine Gift: A bottle of this mulled wine is a beautiful gift to give your loved ones around Christmas time. Pour the wine in glass swing top bottles to make a gift out of them. You can make a unique label with reheating instructions to personalize the item. If the wine you used to make this recipe has a screw cap you could also simply pour it back in that bottle and (optionally) replace the label.
Sweetener: Use a sweetener of your choice. For this recipe I’ve used raw cane sugar, but caster sugar or brown sugar will work just fine. You could also sweeten your mulled wine with honey, maple syrup or agave nectar. Each type of sweetener has its own flavour profile and will slightly change the end result. Change it up and find your favourite!
Don’t boil the wine: You only want to warm the wine through, not boil it. Boiling the wine will evaporate the alcohol and the wine can also turn bitter.
Give it an extra kick: Add a dash of brandy, rum, port wine or orange liquor to spike the mulled wine and give it an extra alcohol boost.
Make ahead: Mulled wine can be kept in the fridge in an airtight bottle for up to 5 days. Make it ahead of time and simply reheat it right before serving.
Are you looking for more festive recipes?
- Serve this alcohol-free version of a classic mulled wine at your next festive get-together so everyone can join in the holiday fun!
- Make these Sugared Cranberries to add a little sparkle to your cocktails, desserts and cakes during the holiday season!
- A Christmas Moscow Mule is the perfect festive drink to serve at your Christmas party.
- Serve this festive Cranberry Brie Crescent Wreath for brunch or as an appetizer, your guests will gobble up this wreath in no time!
- Serve these Truffle Deviled Eggs at your holiday brunch! These delicious appetizers can be made ahead of time and a touch of truffle gives them an elegant twist.
- Wow your guest with an overflowing cheeseboard! The variety of cheese, meats and fruits give everyone something to nibble on.