Making mulled wine at home is as simple as simmering a few ingredients on the stovetop. Its aroma will fill the house with festive spirit while the flavour and warmth will get you inside and out. This is the beverage that you want to have brewing on the stovetop when guests arrive or to enjoy for a relaxing evening in. It feels sophisticated but is actually quite easy to prepare. Here, we outline how to make mulled wine.

Select the Wine

This is not the time to bring out the finest bottle of wine you can find. In fact, this recipe actually tastes best with mid-range bottles. As it simmers, the flavour in the wine change so it’s really not worth using expensive bottles; instead, pick ones with flavour characteristics that complement this spiced drink.

Start by choosing a full bodied red wine that stands up to the spices and fruitiness of this warming cocktail. Look for wines such as malbec, cabernet sauvignon, zweigelt, or grenache. If you’re not sure if a bottle might be suitable, look for descriptors like these: dark red fruit, vanilla, caramel, peppercorn, tobacco or cinnamon. While red wine is traditional for mulled wine, white is also an option.

Add an Optional Spike

While it’s not required, adding a small amount of higher proof alcohol to the wine is a great way to amp up the flavour and warming quality of this comforting drink. A common addition is brandy. Swedish mulled wines, known as Glögg, opt for clear spirits like vodka or aquavit.

Mulled Wine
Credit: Gaby Dyson/Unsplash

Create the Mulling Spice Blend

While mulling spices are the key ingredients, go easy on them — they are quite potent and the flavour develops as the warm wine concoction sits. Start with whole spices: star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, peppercorns, or cardamom. Place them in a freezer bag and break them up using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Gather the spices in a piece of cheesecloth and tie them with a string. Alternatively, you can buy mulling spice bags. Whichever route you take, ensure the spices remain packaged together in some way so that you can easily remove them from the drink when the flavour is right.

Add Fruit and Sweetness

Citrus lends mild acidity and another seasonal flavour note. Remove slices of zest from an orange, lemon, or any seasonal citrus and add it into the mix. Alternatively, float slices of the citrus in the mulled wine. Some mulled wine recipes add dried fruit such as raisins, apples, or cranberries. Last but not least, a touch of sweetness balances out any bitter notes in the warmed wine, making each glass a bit more irresistible. About ¼ cup of honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar add rich warming flavour, although granulated sugar works just fine.

Simmer Gently

Gently heat the wine at a simmer to infuse the mulling flavours into the beverage. Be careful not to heat it too aggressively; we don’t want the alcohol to evaporate too much or the liquid to become syrupy. About 30 minutes of gentle simmering is usually the right amount of time. If you overcook it, top the drink off with more wine to dilute the flavours. Remember that the longer the mulled wine simmers, the more intense the spice will become.

Garnish and Serve

Remove the mulling spices and ladle the warm wine into glasses. Serve as is or top with a cinnamon stick, piece of star anise, dried fruit, or slice of citrus.

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