Experience the magic of the ultimate cosy Christmas drink with this non-alcoholic mulled wine. In this alcohol-free version, we've infused all the classic winter spices - cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, bay leaves and star anise - into a blend of Merlot grape juice and cranberry juice. Citrus fruits, fresh ginger and vanilla add extra complexity to make this virgin version taste as good as the alcoholic counterpart, but without the booze. Serve this alcohol-free version of a classic mulled wine at your next festive get-together so everyone can join in the holiday fun!
What is (non-alcoholic) mulled wine?
This alcohol-free version of mulled wine is the best recipe you’ll find! It has all the flavours of mulled wine, without the booze. Classic mulled wine is a red wine that’s infused with citrus fruits, mulling spices like cinnamon and cloves, and some sugar to sweeten the flavour. It’s heated in a large pot and is served steaming hot. It’s the perfect cosy drink to serve around the holidays and it’s a popular beverage sold at Christmas markets!
Regular mulled wine is made from red wine and therefore contains alcohol. For this non-alcoholic version, we are going to use Merlot grape juice and cranberry juice as a base. The end result comes very close to the original, but without the alcohol! It’s the perfect non-alcoholic alternative to serve to kids, pregnant women, designated drivers or anyone who doesn’t want to drink alcohol. I often make a batch of both my Classic Mulled Wine and this non-alcoholic version so everyone can join in the festive fun!
Virgin mulled wine ingredients
The ingredients for this non-alcoholic mulled wine are very similar to my Classic Mulled Wine recipe. The basics are the same, but we’re going to use two types of fruit juice as a base instead of red wine. We’re also adding a secret ingredient to give this virgin version a zingy kick without adding any alcohol!
Here’s what you need to make this virgin mulled wine:
- Merlot grape juice: This grape juice is made from Merlot grapes, these type of grapes are used to make red Merlot wine. This grape juice has a deep dark purple-red colour and an intense aroma of dark fruits. Just like regular Merlot wine, but without the alcohol! It has natural sugars from the grapes, so it is sweeter than wine, but tastes just as complex. Alternatively, you could also use a concord grape juice or any other dark purple grape juice. Make sure that your juice is 100% grapes without any other additives, sugar or fruit juices mixed into it.
- Cranberry juice: Natural cranberry juice adds some complexity and flavour to this festive drink. It also adds to the dark red colour that it would normally get from red wine. Cranberries are very sour and a bit astringent because of the tannins that are naturally found in these berries. Tannins are also found in red wine, this is what can give wine that ‘dry’ mouthfeel. Make sure you use pure cranberry juice without any additives.
- Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits add loads of fruitiness and flavour to mulled wine. For this non-alcoholic version I use the same fruits and spices to get as close to the regular version as possible. I always use a combination of oranges, lemons and limes for a complex flavour. They each add their unique aromas. 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 when serving.
- Spices: Always use whole spices instead of powders when it comes to mulling wine. Whole spices are more potent, have a longer shelf life and can easily be sieved out after mulling. A combination of cloves, nutmeg, star anise, bay leaves, cinnamon and vanilla is what goes into a traditional mulled wine, but you can experiment with different spices to create a version you love. These warming winter spices add that quintessential mulled wine flavour and aroma to this drink that makes it taste like Christmas!
- Ginger: Here’s where the recipe differs from regular mulled wine. Fresh ginger is my secret ingredient that adds a fiery kick to this virgin mulled wine. It’s that ‘kick’ that sort of mimics the zing that alcohol gives a regular mulled wine.
- Sweetener: Depending on the sweetness of your grape and cranberry juice you probably only need a little bit of sugar (or other sweetener) to balance the flavour. The fruit juices already contain natural sugars and add some sweetness to this drink. I usually add only about a tablespoon of raw cane sugar. Always taste before adding more, you can easily add extra sugar later on if you want this drink to taste sweeter. Instead of cane sugar you can also use brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, coconut sugar or regular sugar.
How to make the best non-alcoholic mulled wine?
The process of making this alcohol-free mulled wine is really similar to the traditional version. You need a pot to heat up the juices and infuse the mixture with spices. You also need a speed peeler, a citrus juicer, a sieve, soup ladle and heatproof glasses or mugs.
Making this virgin mulled wine is an easy and fun activity that will make your kitchen smell like Christmas! All you have to do is combine all the ingredients in a large pot and let the flavours infuse.
Step 1: Prepare your ingredients
Use a large pot like a Dutch oven or soup pan to infuse all the flavours. 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, all the spices and ginger slices 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.
Step 2: Infuse (or mull) the juices
Add both the grape and cranberry juice to the citrus and spice mixture and bring it to a simmer on low to medium heat. Give the mixture a stir and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes to infuse with the spices and citrus fruits. Don’t let the mixture boil. Turn off the stove, cover the pan and let the mixture cool down completely before straining and storing. While cooling, the spices will continue to infuse the drink with their flavours and aromas.
Step 3: Strain the mixture
Nobody wants to drink a chunky mulled wine so we’re going to strain the mixture first. The easiest way to do this is by using a sieve, a jug and a soup ladle. Use the ladle to pour the mixture through a sieve into a jug. Use the jug to pour the mulled grape juice into bottles or containers for storing.
Step 4: Store and serve the wine
When you want to serve this mulled mocktail pour it into a pot and reheat it slowly on the stovetop. Do not boil it, you just want to warm it through. Serve it in heatproof glasses or mugs. You can garnish the drink with a slice of orange, a cinnamon stick or a star anise.
Make this virgin mulled wine ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it. Store it in airtight bottles or containers in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
How to serve this Christmas mocktail?
Reheat the mulled wine in a pot on the stove on low heat. Use a soup ladle to scoop out the hot liquid from the pot into a mug.
Make sure you use mugs or glasses that are heatproof. Glass mugs look pretty because you can see the dark purple-red drink and any garnishes you use, but any type of mug will work just fine. For garnish, you can use a slice of fresh or dried orange or a cinnamon stick. In these photos, I've also added a star anise, some cranberries and a twig of rosemary for a pop of colour.
Serve this virgin version of mulled wine steaming hot to fully enjoy it’s cosy winter flavours. It’s delicious on its own or combine it with some festive snacks. Just like regular Mulled Wine, the sweet flavours of this non-alcoholic version combine beautifully with a festive Cheese Platter. Serve this combo at your next holiday party and you’ll absolutely wow your guests!
Tips & Alternatives
Non-alcoholic wine: Use a non-alcoholic red wine instead of grape and cranberry juice as a base for this virgin mulled wine. Depending on the flavour of your non-alcoholic wine you might want to add extra sweetness in the form of cane sugar, brown sugar, honey or maple syrup. Check out our Classic Mulled Wine recipe for more inspiration and simply swap the wine for a non-alcoholic version!
Switch up the juice: For this recipe, we use 2 types of fruit juice: merlot grape juice and cranberry juice. Merlot grape juice is made from the same grapes that are used for Merlot wine, it has a deep dark purple-red colour. The cranberry juice adds extra freshness and holiday flavours. You can easily switch it up with other red juices like pomegranate or blueberry juice. Experiment with the flavour profiles and find your favourite juice combo!
Fresh vs dried ginger: Both fresh and dried ginger will work in this recipe, in fact when I first made this virgin mulled wine I made it with powdered ginger. Fresh ginger does add more of a kick, which I like because it sort of mimics the zing that alcohol gives the regular mulled wine version.
Sweetener: Use a sweetener of your choice. Since we’re already using fruit juices you will only need a little bit of sugar to sweeten the mulled wine. 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!
Make ahead: This non-alcoholic mulled wine can be kept in the fridge in an airtight bottle or container for about 3-4 days. Make it ahead of time and simply reheat it right before serving.
Are you looking for more festive recipes?
- This Classic Mulled Wine with citrus fruits and whole spices tastes like Christmas in a mug!
- 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.