Let’s cozy up with some mulled wine. Turn on some music, build a fire or light some candles, throw some spices and wine in a pot, and embrace the holiday season. It’s really that simple.
I’ve always associated mulled wine with holiday parties, but a single batch is perfect for two to four people. Mulled wine is unbelievably easy to make, even on a weeknight, and fills your home with holiday fragrance.
This mulled wine is for wine lovers. I’ve encountered a few mulled wines over the years that tasted like sweet potpourri, but not this recipe. It’s fruity and spiced, but the wine still shines through.
You just might even have all of the ingredients at home! If so, you’re just fifteen minutes away from mulled wine. Let’s make some.
How to Make the Best Mulled Wine
Follow the foolproof recipe below, and your mulled wine will turn out perfectly every time. Here are some key tips:
1) Choose your wine carefully.
Use an affordable bottle of Merlot, Zinfandel or Garnacha. You’ll find more wine details in the ingredients section below.
2) Heat gently.
Resist the urge to crank up the heat on your mulled wine! If your wine is steaming, it’s hot enough. Wine is delicate. Heat it too long or too high, and eventually your wine will taste too spicy, syrupy and almost raisin-like, and the alcohol will evaporate over time.
3) Go easy on the spices.
You might be surprised by how few spices we’re adding, but they are potent. Upon first sip, you might think, “This doesn’t taste spicy enough,” but I promise you’ll change your mind by your second glass.
Mulled Wine Ingredients
Keep in mind that these ingredients are very easily multiplied. One bottle of wine will yield five drinks (enough for two to four people), two bottles yield 10 drinks, and so on.
Wine forms the backbone of this recipe, so naturally, your wine selection is important. Some red wines that you might enjoy at room temperature will not taste so nice when heated. Do not use expensive wine for mulled wine, since we’re adding so much to it. Just choose a quality wine (say, 10 to 20 dollars per bottle) and select the varietal carefully.
The best red wine to use for mulled wine is Merlot, Zinfandel or Garnacha (also called Grenache). These wines are dark, fruity and full bodied, which means they can support all of the flavors we’ll be adding. Look for labels that describe the wine as “jammy” or with “notes of vanilla.”
Avoid red wines that are high in tannins or super oaky in flavor, like Cabernet Sauvignon (I say this as someone who generally enjoys Cabernet Sauvignon). Also avoid very light red wines, like Pinot Noir, because they don’t offer enough body to carry the spices.
Brandy amps up the alcohol content a bit, though we aren’t using much. It’s more for warming flavor and a little bite than anything else. I used E&J VSOP, which is affordable and fine.
You can omit the brandy if you don’t want to buy it, though you may want to keep a bottle around for sangria.
We’re going to squeeze some of the fresh orange juice into the mixture, then slice the rest to make rounds. Oranges are in season during the cold months, so you should be able to find nice, juicy oranges at the grocery store.
Buy two small oranges if you can, just because smaller rounds fit better into mugs. Or, one large will do—you just might need to slice your rounds into half-moons to fit.
We’ll need whole cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. Whole spices, rather than ground, are absolutely key to mulled wine. The good news is that whole spices keep longer than ground spices (a few years, even). I hope you have these in your pantry already—if not, they’re worth keeping around for spiced ginger tea or hot toddies.
Maple Syrup or Honey
Alcohol flavor becomes more harsh when heated, so we’ll balance out the flavors which just a tablespoon or two of real maple syrup or honey. Wine lovers will love this naturally sweetened mulled wine recipe because it is not too sweet.
I honestly can’t decide whether I like maple syrup or honey better. They both offer some extra flavor that plays wonderfully with the other ingredients.
To make mulled wine look even more festive, I love to throw a handful of fresh cranberries into the pot before serving. You might also like to serve individual servings with additional orange rounds or half-moons, cinnamon sticks and/or star anise.
Suggested Serving Equipment
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Cook the mulled wine in a medium heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or stainless steel pot. My 3.5-quart Le Creuset is large enough to accommodate several batches at once. Dutch ovens are great because they retain heat well and just look so pretty when you’re serving straight out of the pot.
Or, warm your mulled wine in a slow cooker. Simply combine all of the ingredients, cover, and cook on low heat until the wine is steaming hot (about 30 minutes to 1 hour). Once it’s sufficiently warmed up, reduce the heat to “warm” or the lowest possible setting so it doesn’t get too spicy.
Serve your mulled wine with a ladle. In a pinch, you can use a heatproof measuring cup to scoop. Place a dark tea towel on a plate to give your guests somewhere to place the ladle when it’s not in use.
Lastly, serve your wine in mugs. Glass mugs are fun because you can see the mulled wine inside. I got my pretty glass mugs from Crate and Barrel, but they seem to be out of stock. Here are more great options.
Watch How to Make Classic Mulled Wine
Mulled Wine Serving Suggestions
This mulled wine is lovely on its own before meals or after dinner. Here are a few snacks that would pair well with it:
- Cranberry Crostini
- Naturally Sweetened Candied Pecans
- Peanut Butter Oat Cookies
- Perfect Stovetop Popcorn or Cinnamon Maple Caramel Popcorn
- Sweet & Spicy Roasted Party Nuts
More Warming Holiday Drinks to Enjoy
View all of my cocktail recipes here. Please let me know how your mulled wine turns out in the comments! I love hearing from you.
Classic Mulled Wine
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 5 drinks 1x
- Category: Cocktail
- Method: Cooked
- Cuisine: International
Warm up with this classic mulled wine recipe! It’s so easy to make. Gather a few basic ingredients and you’ll be sipping mulled wine in 15 minutes! Recipe yields 1 bottle’s worth of mulled wine (about 5 servings); multiply as desired.
- 2 small oranges or 1 large
- 1 bottle of affordable Merlot, Zinfandel or Garnacha (also called Grenache)
- ¼ cup brandy
- 1 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey, to taste
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- 3 star anise
- 4 whole cloves
- Optional garnishes: Fresh whole cranberries (about ¼ cup), cinnamon sticks, additional orange rounds or half moons
- To prepare the oranges, if using 2 small, slice one orange into rounds and slice the other in half. If using 1 large orange, slice it in half through the round middle, then slice one of the halves into rounds. Place the rounds into a medium heavy-bottomed pot or small Dutch oven. Squeeze the juice from the remaining oranges into the pot.
- Pour the wine into the pot, followed by the brandy. Add 1 tablespoon of the sweetener for now. Add the cinnamon sticks, star anise and cloves.
- Warm the mixture over medium heat until steaming (about 5 minutes), and keep an eye on it. When you start seeing the tiniest of bubbles at the surface, reduce the heat to the lowest of low.
- Carefully taste, and add another tablespoon of sweetener if it’s not sweet enough for your liking. If it’s not spicy enough to suit your preferences, continue cooking over very low heat for 5 to 10 more minutes.
- Serve in mugs with your desired garnishes! If you’re adding cranberries as I did, you can add them to the pot to make it look extra festive.
- If you expect to polish off the mulled wine within 20 minutes or so, you can keep it on the stove over extra-low heat (it will become more spicy with time). Otherwise, remove it from the heat, cover, and rewarm over low heat if necessary. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days, covered (pour it through a strainer if you don’t want it to become any more spicy than it already is).
Slow cooker option: Combine the mixture in your slow cooker, cover, and cook over low heat until steaming, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Wow, sounds amazing! I can’t wait to try this! I just want to make it for myself while I watch the great british baking show with my husband.
You have my full support, not that you need it! Ha. Hope you love it. :)
Thanks for the wonderful recipe! Making this as I prepare for my family’s zoom Christmas gathering.
You’re welcome! I’m glad you loved it, Katie.
Make this this evening for the Australian winter solstice ❄️ So lovely and simple
Made this last night to drink by the campfire, we all loved it! And the house smelled like Christmas, can’t wait to make it again, I have a feeling I’ll be drinking mulled wine all winter long. It feels like such a special treat but is so quick and easy
Thank you so much, Brooke! Sounds lovely. Happy holidays!
Amazing mulled wine….simple and perfect for the holidays
Thank you, Stacey! Happy to hear it.
Thanks for this recipe, it made my first time making mulled wine a breeze! I made it in my slow cooker yesterday for the second of advent. Used Merlot and Grand Marnier (didn’t have brandy at home) – it was delicious and the spices were just right. Will make it again soon for sure.
Happy holidays from Shanghai!
Thank you so much, Marina! I’m so glad you enjoyed the mulled wine!
I made this tonight & it just tasted like wine…. I followed the recipe to a T. Used all the ingredients listed & it was nothing special. I don’t care for wine that much but I have had mulled wine before and liked it because it tasted more than just wine ♀️
I’m sorry to hear that, Victoria. Maybe this one just isn’t for you since wine is a main ingredient.
Made this before going on an evening walk to look at Christmas lights and the stars. It was a perfect warm spiced drink to come home to after a cold winter’s walk. I did half honey and half date syrup for the sweetener and it turned out really well. Thanks for another great recipe!
That sounds like a perfect combination, Katie! Thank you for taking the time to review.
This felt like a festive treat – not something I’d want every day, but a good special drink for Christmas. We served it with smitten kitchen’s date spice loaf. Definitely very hygge!
No pictures, unfortunately, but the recipe turned out great. The feedback I received was that the mulled wine was DELICIOUS! The tips were invaluable. Thank you!
This was so good that we bought another bottle of wine while out the next day to make it again!
Happy to hear it! Thanks, Sadye!
I LOVE this recipe! It is my go-to for hot spiced wine on these cold Kansas nights. I grew up on Swedish Glogg, have tasted plenty of German Gluhwein, and can honestly say that this recipe is tasty. Thank you, Kate (and Cookie!)
I love that! Yes, great to cozy up with and make these cold days not so harsh :) Thank you for your review, Krista.
Recipe looks good and I would love to try it but I’m not a big drinker. Was wondering if the mulled wine will keep for a few days and if so how should it be stored? If not, I’ll just have to have a few people over!
Hi DL, this is best served right away.
If you double the quantity of wine do you keep the same amount of the other ingrdients or everything doubles including the spices?
Hi Georgia! If you want to double this, then you will do everything increase by the same. Cooking time may vary slightly with more quantity, but similar. I hope you enjoy it!
I’ve made a few of your recipes now and they have all been amazing. This mulled wine was so easy and delicious. I love how you add extra tips and tricks at the bottom of each recipe. Your website is my go to now when looking for a recipe. Thank you so much from New Zealand xx
Thank you, Jessica! I’m delighted you enjoyed it.
Delicious – but why did mine come out so strong? :(
I had an unpleasant Merlot that I hated the thought of wasting so used it to make your mulled wine. Delicious! So simple to make. My home also smells amazing…thank you!
Sal and Paul
We had some red wine that was disappointing but mulled to your recipe it was delicious especially home on a cold wet wintry day . We added the brandy as specified and a bit more maple syrup than in the recipe . So thanks for a great brew . We have some left I strained for today so will be interested to see if I need to add more spice .
Do you think spiced rum would work in this instead of Brandy? Can’t wait to make it!
You could try it, although it’s best as written. It might be too much with the mixture.
Made this yesterday and everyone loved it! Tripled it. Will make again and again!
That’s great, Donna! I appreciate your review.
Loved this awesome mulled wine recipe, quick and easy to make, nice simple ingredients and not overwhelming with spice like many other ones I’ve tried. Great tip with the wine selections too. Made it 20mins after guests arrived for Christmas and was sipping on it with in 20-25mins only because there was lots of catching up and chatter involved. Was a hit and guests loved it and were asking for the recipe. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’m glad you and your guests enjoyed it, Darren!
Followed the recipe to a T and it turned out terribly.. maybe my spices were more potent? I don’t know…
Hi Elsa, I’m sorry to hear that. Did you cook it on really low? If it was too high, that can extract too much of the spice. I hope you try it again!
Just made it was sluuuvelyy.hic
An excellent recipe. I also added some Clementine and ginger gin for good measure.
I’m glad you loved it, Fi! Thank you for your review.
Thank you so much! Made it today and it was delicious! Loved it! The recipe is simple, does not require much, ingredients you have could be found in most of the households. Enjoyed it with family and friends.
Thank you again :)
You’re welcome! I’m glad you were able to share it with others and enjoy it.
Can I make this on A Friday night and put in a thermos to take to a dog show (not for the dogs) the next day?
I haven’t tried it, Sorry!
If you want to increase quantity for a party would you just double the wine not all the spices?
Hi! You will want to double everything. I hope you all love it, Bec.
Hello, can this be made,cooled and reheated later? Thanks
I find this is best consumed right away.
Hi! Quick question..I am making tonight for my Halloween celebration…I do not have glass mugs, should I go out for styrofoam cups or is it safe to serve in my glass wine glasses?
Hi! I don’t recommend styrofoam. What did you decide to do?
I have a bottle of a sweet red blend. Thoughts on using it and omitting the honey/maple syrup? Thanks!
Hi Cindy, you could try it. Although, I recommend this recipe as written for best results.
Making this tonight for a chilly outdoor gathering around a Canadian campfire. Can’t wait to try it!
I’m meeting some friends for a wintertime beach bonfire next week. Do you have any tips for making this over a campfire? I love all of your recipes I’ve tried (especially your black bean sweet potato enchiladas and veggie lasagna, which are both staples in my home!). Thank you!
Hi Shelly! Sorry for my delay. What did you decide to do?
I’m drinking this right now. I’m not usually a red wine drinker but this was lovely! I didn’t use the brandy because it would be a bit too strong for me but I did add another orange.
I would make this again!
Thank you for this recipe.
I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it, Beau! I appreciate your review.
I modified the recipe slightly by omitting the brandy as well as the star anise because I didn’t have either, but I threw in half of an apple. I also did 1tbsp spiced maple syrup and 1tbsp of brown sugar. I put it in the crock pot for about 40 min and it came out delicious! I will definitely try it again once I get some brandy. The whole time I was waiting for it my boyfriend kept saying he didn’t think he was interested, and once I served him a glass he told me it was dangerously good! 2 thumbs up for this one!
I’m glad you loved it, Diana! I appreciate your comment and review.
I’ve made this twice and the type of wine used makes a difference. Used Shiraz the first time ( rich blackcurrant flavour) and followed the recipe ( used brown sugar to sweeten) and it turned out perfect. Second time used a Shiraz/ Granach blend and a splash more brandy. This was too tart and strong and had to add alot more honey/ maple syrup/ sugar to get it right. Great recipe. Everyone loved it.
Great to hear, Grace! Thank you for your review.
I made this but with a few variations mainly because I recently gave up alcohol and forgot to buy oranges. So I used non alcoholic grenache/shiraz. No brandy or orange. I put cloves, cinnamon, star anise and added a couple of cardamom pods, and only 1 tablespoon of honey. So despite no orange in it, it was so delicious with a delightful gentle spiced flavour! I will definitely make again, yum