Mulled Wine is a comforting winter drink made from a blend of red wine, spices, and citrus, served warm. This holiday classic is perfect for sitting by the fire or serving as a cocktail at your holiday parties.
This easy traditional holiday cocktail comes together in less than 10 minutes!
Mulled wine, also known as spiced wine, is made with (most typically) red wine, and a variety of mulling spices (cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise), sometimes citrus, and served warm during the cold winter months. Glühwein (roughly translated as “glowing-wine”) is what it’s called in Germany, and is a traditional drink found at the Christmas markets throughout Europe.
It’s festive, warm, comforting, delicious, and super easy to make at home!
The great thing about this recipe is that you probably already have all of the ingredients right inside your pantry, so it is an easy one to whip up on a cold winter week night with short notice, but can be elegant enough for a holiday cocktail party.
The traditional ingredients will vary based on the specific region. But for me, I go with what I have on hand, and what flavors I find create the best balance. I don’t like overly sweet drinks, so I keep it mild when it comes to adding too much sweet additions. Instead I like it mildly sweet, with a touch of citrus and a nice hint of the mulling spices.
Ingredients for Mulled Red Wine
- Dry Red Wine: I recommend Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, or a dry red blend. No need to spend much money on wine for mulled wine. You can find good examples from $8-$15.
- Spices: like whole cloves, star anise, and cinnamon sticks. You don’t need to go overboard with these. A little goes a long way! If you have vanilla bean that adds a nice touch too.
- Citrus: I like orange (rind and the juice).
- Sweetener: You can add sugar, maple syrup, or honey. Honey is my go to, and adds the most mild and natural sweet flavor to the mulled wine.
- Liquor: it’s quite common to find versions that have a bit of brandy, cognac, bourbon, rum, or even port to the mix (a small amount, like 1/4 – 1/2 cup). I don’t find it’s necessary, but go for it if you like that addition.
How to Make Mulled Wine
- Combine wine, cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, honey, and the juice and zest of one orange in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer on low (not a boil) for 10 minutes.
- Pour into mugs and garnish with an orange slice and an additional cinnamon stick (optional). Feel free to use a fine strainer if you don’t want any orange rind or small pieces of remaining spices in your glass.
If serving at a party, double the batch and warm it up in a slow cooker. This will keep it warm all evening and make your house smell like holiday heaven! Lay out festive mugs and garnishes and let guests serve themselves.
Recipe for Mulled Red Wine
- 1 (750-ml.) bottle dry red wine (Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec)
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 star anise
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 oranges (1 sliced into rounds for the mix, 1 for garnish)
- Combine the wine, cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, honey, and one orange (sliced into rounds) in a saucepan. Stir and bring to a simmer.
- Continue to simmer 10 minutes.
- Pour into mugs, and garnish with an orange slice. Serve warm. Feel free to use a strainer to serve without any orange peel or spices that may work their way in.
More Winter Cocktail Recipes
- Pomegranate Mimosas
- Bourbon Spiked Hot Apple Cider
- Classic Hot Toddy with Cognac
- Spanish Carajillo
- Blackberry Aperol Spritz
- Smoked Ice Cocktail
*This post was originally published in December, 2009, and updated in 2019 with new photos and details. The recipe remains unchanged.
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