Made with red wine, citrus, and warm spices like cinnamon and cloves, this truly is the best Mulled Wine recipe. Perfect for holiday parties or anytime you need a warm beverage during the chilly months!
More interested in a party punch with chilled wine? Check out our Easy Holiday Punch – great for holiday get togethers, too.
The Best Mulled Wine Recipe
Not only does mulled wine taste like the holidays, but cooking it always results in a house filled with the warm scents of cinnamon, cloves, and star anise with subtle undertones of citrus. And, of course, we can’t forget the wine!
For those who have never had it, mulled wine is simply wine (usually red) that’s heated with a handful of warm spices and citrus. It’s a quintessential holiday drink often served at Christmas parties or other gatherings. You can easily make big batches of it which makes it perfect for larger groups, but a smaller batch is great for sharing amongst family or friends, no matter the occasion.
When it comes to holiday beverages, this is truly a crowd favorite. It takes wine drinking to the next level and is so warming and comforting.
What You’ll Need
Red wine, citrus, and a few spices are all you need for this easy holiday drink recipe.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Red wine: Any dry red wine will work here, though you do want to avoid wines that are super sweet because we add granulated sugar to this.
- Granulated sugar: For sweetness. This is a key ingredient in mulled wine – don’t skip it.
- Lemon: Fresh lemon juice is added to the mixture to balance the wine and sugar flavor.
- Orange: Peel before adding to reduce the bitterness of the mulled wine.
- Mulled wine spices: I use cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and star anise. You want to use the whole spice, not the ground version.
- Liquor: Brandy, bourbon, or cognac are popular add-ins for a little boozy kick to the mulled wine, much like liquor is often added to sangria.
- Garnishes: Orange slices, cinnamon sticks, or fresh whole cranberries can all be added at the end as a garnish.
What Kind of Wine to Use
I recommend using a wine that’s priced middle of the road. Avoid using boxed wine, but you don’t need anything too expensive either.
My preferred type of wine for mulled wine is Pinot Noir or Zinfandel. Choose something fruity but not too sweet. Besides the two mentioned above, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are great choices.
Regardless of what wine you choose, my recommendation is always to choose a wine that you like to drink on its own. That’s key in ending up with a mulled wine you love!
How to Make Mulled Wine
This classic Christmas drink is incredibly easy to make! And it takes just about a half an hour or so to prepare. Here’s a brief summary:
(For all the details, scroll below to the complete printable recipe card.)
- Heat to a simmer. Combine all ingredients in a Dutch oven and stir. Warm until steaming and just barely simmering. As soon as you start seeing tiny bubbles, reduce the heat to very low.
- Reduce heat. Continue cooking on very low heat for another 5-10 minutes. Taste and add more sweetener if you feel it’s too bitter.
- Serve. Remove the spices and serve warm in glasses. If you’ll be finishing it within 20 minutes or so, keep on the stove over extra-low heat but otherwise, remove from the heat, cover and reheat as necessary.
Can I Make Mulled Wine In a Crockpot?
This mulled wine recipe is easy to adapt to make in a crockpot and I find that serving it in a crockpot is actually ideal for parties, as you can keep it warm more easily. To make crockpot mulled wine, just add all of the ingredients to the crockpot, cover, and set over low heat until steaming, about 30 to 60 minutes, then switch to the warm setting.
Tips for Success
If this is your first time making this classic holiday drink, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Use whole spices – not ground. Ground spices will not provide the same level of flavor in this recipe. It’s important to use whole spices, which you can find at higher-end grocery stores like Trader Joe’s or on Amazon.
- Don’t allow it to boil. You want to heat the wine to just simmering. Any bubbles or boiling will begin to cook the alcohol.
- Reduce the bitterness. To minimize any bitter flavor, you can peel the orange before simmering it in the wine. You can also always add extra sweetener.
Wondering how to make this Christmas alcoholic drink without the booze? Or want to use a sugar alternative? Here’s a few ideas.
- Can I make this without alcohol? Sure, if you want an alcohol-free version, just use unsweetened red grape juice in place of the wine and omit the additional liquor.
- Can I replace the sugar with something else? Yes, both honey and maple syrup can be used as sweeteners. Be sure to taste test as the amount you’ll need will depend on how sweet the wine is.
- Can I make mulled wine with white wine? Yes, while this Christmas drink recipe is traditionally made with red wine, you can also use a dry white wine if you prefer.
- What other mulled wine spices can I use? Cardamom is another spice frequently used in this hot Christmas drink.
Can I Make This in Advance?
Yes, the great thing about this classic holiday drink is that it can easily be prepared in advance! If you make it within a few hours of the party, it can sit on the counter at room temperature.
However, it will also last up to 3 days in the fridge if you want to make it the day before. Just prepare according to the directions, cool to room temperature, and transfer to an airtight container. Reheat on the stovetop or in a crockpot. Be sure to remove the spices before storing, otherwise it will likely become too spicy.
More Holiday Drink Recipes:
- 750 ml dry red wine
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 small lemon , juiced
- 1 orange , sliced
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 8 whole cloves
- 2 star anise
- 1/4 cup brandy, bourbon, or cognac
- additional orange slices, cinnamon sticks, or fresh whole cranberries , for garnish
- Combine all the ingredients in a Dutch oven or medium heavy-bottomed pot; briefly stir.
- Warm over medium heat until steaming and just barely reaches a simmer (about 5 minutes) – keep a close eye on it. Once you start seeing tiny bubbles at the surface, reduce the heat to very low.
- Continue cooking over very low heat for another 5-10 minutes. Taste and add more sweetener, if desired.
- Remove the spices from the wine and serve warm in heatproof glasses or mugs.
- If you expect to finish 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.NOTE: For tips and info about the wine, making it in a crock pot, a non-alcoholic version, variations, and storage, please refer to the article. Lots of great info included!