Cozy up to a cup of homemade Mulled Wine; every sip tastes just like Christmas. This traditional blend of wine, fruit, and fragrant spices makes cheeks rosy and warms you from the inside out.
Trimming the tree works up an appetite, so make sure you have some Cheese Tortellini in Garlic Butter Sauce or 2-Ingredient Barbecue Little Smokies to nibble on between fa-la-las. For other easy homemade dinner ideas, you’ve got some delicious choices.
But just in case there's still a lot of work to do, here's a holiday cocktail recipe that needs almost no time at all--maybe 5 minutes of prep and a few minutes to cook. It makes the whole house smell absolutely incredible and puts everyone in the Christmas spirit.
Mulled Wine is the best, easiest thing you can make for holiday entertaining. You can scale it up or down to accommodate your guest list, and add a combination of spices, citrus peel, or spirits to make the recipe uniquely yours. All you have to do is assemble the ingredients and turn on the stove or the slow cooker.
And when the doorbell rings, offer your guests a piping hot cup of spiced wine, to keep Jack Frost from nipping at their noses. They'll love you for it.
Making your best Mulled Wine recipe for a troupe of thirsty carolers? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
What is mulled wine?
At its most basic, mulled wine is made of wine that's heated, sweetened, and infused with fruit, herbs, and spices. Sometimes a stronger spirit— like brandy— is added to give it a little extra oomph. (Is mulled wine alcoholic? Yes, it is, so please drink responsibly.)
All over the world, including England, Brazil, Germany, France, and Spain, people enjoy vin chaud, varené vino, bisschopswijn, glintvein, vinho quente, glühwein, or glögg. Each recipe for mulled wine might be slightly different, but all of them are festive and delicious.
The best wine for Mulled Wine:
Please don't spend a lot of money on wine for mulled wine. The citrus, fruit, and spices will probably overpower the subtleties of high quality or lighter-bodied wines like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais Nouveau. Plus your guests will inhale every last drop, so you'll probably want to make sure you have enough.
Choose an affordable, bold red wine like a malbec, Syrah, or Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of the better brands of boxed wine make excellent mulled wine, too. Don't overlook them.
If you're making mulled white wine, choose a dry white wine like a pinot Grigio or sauvignon blanc.
Mulled Wine ingredients:
- Wine. Red or white. (When making mulled wine, Aldi is a great place to shop for a good wine deal.)
- Orange juice. If you don’t have it, apple cider works just as well, too.
- Oranges. Or any citrus, if you like.
- Sugar. You can also use a natural sweetener, maple syrup, agave nectar, or honey to sweeten mulled wine.
- Spirits. Completely optional, but very delicious. Brandy, cognac, or bourbon added to mulled wine in small amounts gives mulled wine a nice depth of flavor, much like sangria.
- Mulled wine spices. You can make your own mulled wine sachets using a blend of warming spices such as:
- Cinnamon sticks.
- Star anise.
- Cardamom pods.
- Black or pink peppercorns. Just a few!
- Citrus peel.
- Whole nutmeg. Cracked in pieces.
Making a mulled wine sachet:
If your pantry is fairly well-stocked, you can make a homemade sachet and skip the expensive mulled wine kit or tea bags. Making your own is always better.
Simply select the spices you want to use, and bundle them up together in a square of muslin or cheesecloth, tied with kitchen twine. For example: cloves, star anise, nutmeg, cinnamon, and lemon peel.
Make sure the tail of the twine is long enough that you can tie it to the pot handle, if desired, to make removal before serving the mulled wine easy.
If you don’t want to mess with making your own sachet, just throw the spices in the wine to float around and strain them out right before serving.
How to make mulled wine at home:
This recipe makes traditional mulled wine fast and easy, ready before the carolers have finished their first song.
- First, make sure you’re using a non-reactive pot for cooking. Stainless steel, ceramic, or stovetop-safe glass pots work best.
- Once you find the right pot, stir together the wine, orange slices, sugar or sweetener, and spices, and simmer until steam just starts to rise from the pot. Don’t boil the mulled wine; the alcohol will cook off.
- On low heat, you can simmer the wine for 10 minutes, or up to several hours to let all those wonderful flavors mingle together and get friendly.
Making Mulled Wine in a slow cooker:
A slow cooker or crockpot is perfect, especially during an open house or longer party where guests are coming and going.
Add the wine, orange juice, fruit, sugar or sweetener, and spices to the crock pot. Cover and cook on LOW until hot; keep on LOW throughout the party. Replenish as needed.
How to serve Mulled Wine:
How to drink mulled wine? Carefully. The best mulled wine cups have handles for easy (and safe) drinking. A pretty selection of mugs or glass punch cups make excellent mulled wine glasses!
Everyone is going to love this recipe so much, just give them something they can wrap their hands around between sips.
Garnish mulled wine with a fresh citrus slice or orange peel and an extra cinnamon stick, if you have one.
Non-alcoholic Mulled Wine:
Make this non-alcoholic version of mulled wine for the whole family. Because everyone should be able to join in the festivities!
All you have to do is replace the wine (and brandy) in the recipe for Concord grape juice (like Welch's) and omit the orange juice and the sugar. Then add the citrus slices, spices, and proceed with the recipe as directed.
Mulled Wine Recipe
- 2 (750 mL) bottles red wine
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 2 oranges sliced into wheels and halved, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup sugar or honey or maple syrup, or less to taste
- 12 whole cloves
- 4 cinnamon sticks plus more for garnish
- 4 star anise plus more for garnish
Note: Spices can be tied in a square of cheesecloth or put in a metal tea ball for easy removal. Or, strain the wine after simmering as instructed below.
- In a large non-aluminum pot over medium-low heat, combine wine, orange juice, orange slices, sugar, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and star anise. Simmer until steam begins to rise from the pot and the mixture is hot, about 10 minutes (do not boil).
- Strain (or remove spice bundle) and keep warm over low heat until ready to serve. Serve warm garnished with orange slices, cinnamon sticks, and star anise if desired.
- 1/2 cup brandy or other liqueur
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 whole nutmegs, cracked into pieces with a hammer
- 4 cardamom pods