Mulled Wine: the classic recipe for a traditional Christmas drink

Total time: 25 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 6 people
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By Cookist
Dry red wine
1 750-ml bottle
1/4 cup
orange, sliced into rounds
whole cloves
8 to 10
Cinnamon sticks
Star anise
3 to 6
2 tbsp

Nothing says the holidays are here quite like a warming mug of homemade mulled wine. It's a classic winter beverage made by cooking wine with spices and other ingredients, a process known as mulling.

Classic mulled wine is popular all over Europe, where it's called vin brulé, vin chaud, vino caliente, depending on where you are, and Europeans enjoy sipping on mulled wine as they visit Christmas markets and winter food festivals.

While you can buy store-bought mulled wine mix, this easy homemade recipe is a million times tastier. With its warming, spiced flavor, and heavenly aroma mulled wine is a perfect alcoholic beverage to enjoy this winter, whether you're serving it to friends and family, or enjoy a mug yourself!


Mulled Wine Ingredients 

To make the best classic mulled wine, you'll need a bottle of inexpensive dry red wine. Don't use an expensive bottle; adding spices, brandy, and other flavorings will mask any nuances and in the wine.

You'll also need fresh citrus. Oranges are the standard, but lemon and clementines are wonderful as well.

Spices are essential to mulling. A mixture of cloves, cinnamon, and star anise is the basic version, but you can add any spices you like. Adding brandy to your mulled wine makes it tastier and boozier.

How to Make Mulled Wine

For a delicious mulled wine that rivals the best Christmas market version, put all of the ingredients into a large pot. Bring it to the barest of simmers, then turn down the heat and pop on the lid. Let the wine cook with the spices for at least 15 minutes up to 3 hours – the longer the better!

Once the spices have infused the wine to your liking, take the pot off the heat and strain out the spices and oranges. Taste your mulled wine and adjust for sweetness. Pour the mulled wine into mugs, and garnish with additional orange slices and cinnamon sticks if desired.

Mulled Wine Variations

If you want to add an orange flavor to your mulled wine, use orange liqueur instead of brandy. For an apple taste, use Calvados instead of brandy.

Play around with different spices. Ginger, cardamom, allspice, peppercorn, and nutmeg are all delicious options you can add.

If you're not a fan of red wine, you can use white wine or rose wine instead.

Lemons, clementines, tangerines, and blood oranges are all excellent in mulled wine. You can also add some fresh cranberries or pomegranate for a sweet-tart flavor.

Tips for Classic Mulled Wine

You can leave out the star anise if you don't have any or prefer not to use it.

If you prefer a less bitter mulled wine, peel the orange first.

Add more spices for a spicer mulled wine.

To really infuse the wine with flavor, try making it in your slow cooker. Cook it on low for 8 hours, just make sure it doesn't simmer too vigorously – this will cause the alcohol to burn off.

You can place all the spices into a cheesecloth and bind the cloth with butcher's string to make them easier to remove.

What to Pair with Mulled Wine

Mulled wine goes well with wintery snacking foods like gougeres, fondue, cheeseboard, charcuterie board, and pates.

For sweet pairings, try shortbread, mince pies, and other Christmas cookies.

Can You Store Mulled Wine?

You can make mulled wine up to 2 days in advance. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Either warm it up before serving or enjoy cold, if you prefer.


Place wine, brandy, orange rounds, spices, and sugar into a pot. Cook over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a very low simmer, then place the lid on the pot and reduce the heat to low.

Cook for 15 minutes up to 3 hours, depending on how spiced you desire the wine to be.

Remove the pot from the heat and strain. Taste and adjust for sweetness.

Pour into mugs, garnish with additional orange slices and cinnamon sticks if desired, and enjoy.


You can swap out the sugar for honey, maple syrup, or your preferred sweetener.

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