All About Mulled Wine
You know what red wine and white wine are, and how each are processed and vary from each other, but what about mulled wine? If the phrase “spiced wine” comes to mind, you are correct! A popular Christmastime beverage, mulled wine is just as unique as other wines. But how exactly do you make mulled wine? What is the best wine for mulled wine? And which spices should you use?
What is Mulled Wine?
What exactly is mulled wine? The word “mull” means to “to heat, sweeten, and flavor (a beverage, such as wine or cider) with spices,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Indeed, mulled wine, or spiced wine, is served and enjoyed while hot, making it a perfect drink for the holidays. Often credited to the ancient Greeks, mulled wine has been enjoyed for over 2,000 years. With the rise and expansion of the Roman Empire across Europe, so too did the consumption of mulled wine.
During the Medieval era, mulled wine became even more popular, with kings enjoying the beverage. However, mulled wine as we know it today and the tradition of enjoying it during the holiday season didn’t emerge until the Victorian Era in England. For that, you can thank beloved author Charles Dickens, who mentioned mulled wine in his classic novella “A Christmas Carol.”
Mulled Wine Ingredients
While there are plenty of different mulled wine recipes out there, the basic ingredients are red wine, mulling spices, sweeteners, and/or fruit.
Red wines are traditionally used to make mulled wine, and while any red wine can work, sweet reds will give you a nice, sweet base, meaning less sugar added in later. If you use a dry red, keep in mind you may need to add more sugar than a recipe calls for. Our Sweet Scarlet, Sangria, and Merlot are all great choices for traditional mulled wine.
Even if you’re not much of a red wine drinker, you may be surprised to find you enjoy the sweetness and warmth of red mulled wine. That being said, white wines and rosés also make excellent mulled wines! Try our Riesling with some cinnamon and oranges for a different take on traditional mulled wine.
Depending on the recipe, traditional mulling spices are usually cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Other spices sometimes used are pepper, cardamon, rosemary, ginger, and star anise. Whole spices, rather than ground spices, are often preferred.
Sweeteners and Fruits
Certain mulled wines also include sweeteners, such as honey or fruit, to complement the warmth of the spices. For example, apples and citrus fruits (usually oranges) pair nicely with cinnamon.
Depending on the recipe, other liquor may be added, such as brandy, cider, vodka, etc.
How to Make the Best Mulled Wine
No matter which recipe you’re using, there are several key points to keep in mind when making mulled wine:
Don’t Overheat the Wine
Wine is delicate, so don’t crank up the heat. Simmer the wine instead, and never boil it, as sugars will caramelize. Plus, alcohol burns off as it’s heated, so don’t “cook” the wine. When overheated, wine can taste raisin-like or syrupy, cancelling out the original fruity flavors that enhance spices and sweeteners. If the wine is steaming, it’s plenty hot!
Don’t go overboard with mulling spices, as these can overpower the wine. While you might be tempted to use ground spices, whole spices provide better flavor and create an appealing aesthetic. If you’re trying a new mulled wine recipe or creating your own, it’s always safe to start with a small amount of spices and add more to taste.
Add sweetener to balance out the spices. While you can use plain white sugar, honey is a preferred choice, as it provides a richer flavor. Other options are maple syrup and agave. Fruit is also a popular sweetener, with folks incorporating chopped oranges, lemons, apples, cranberries, blackberries, etc.
Mulled Wine Recipes from Around the World
There are a variety of mulled wine recipes, as you can vary the types and amounts of spices, sweeteners, and fruit used. In fact, several countries have their own mulled wine recipe. For example, there are Spanish, German, and French variations of mulled wine. Swedish recipes add in vodka or brandy, while Latvian mulled wine incorporates Black Balsam, a traditional Latvian spirit. There’s even Brazilian and Turkish style mulled wine, the latter of the two being consumed with lemon.
Mulled Wine Recipes
The beauty of mulled wine is that you can get creative with whichever ingredients and wines you like. For bolder flavors, try stronger spices, or add in richer sweeteners. Experiment with different recipes to see which mulled wine variations you and your family enjoy! If you’re new to making mulled wine, use the recipes below as a starting point. Know that mulled wine recipes provide a framework, and that you can adjust as you go.
Red Mulled Wine Recipe
Ready to enjoy a glass of traditional mulled wine? To make red mulled wine, you will need:
- 1 bottle of red wine
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 orange, sliced
- 1 apple, sliced
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp. cloves
Step 1: Pour wine into a medium-sized pot or slow cooker and heat on low.
Step 2: Stir honey into the wine.
Step 3: Add apple and orange slices to the pot.
Step 4: Add in cinnamon stick(s) and cloves.
Step 5: Simmer, stirring occasionally, for approximately 10 minutes. Avoid boiling.
Step 6: Turn off the heat and serve hot. Enjoy!
White Mulled Wine Recipe
If you prefer white wine over red wine, here’s a white mulled wine recipe for you:
- 1 bottle white wine
- 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
- 1 orange, peeled
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 4 star anise
- 3 cloves
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Step 1: Pour the wine into a medium-sized pot or slow cooker and set heat to low.
Step 2: Stir honey into the wine.
Step 3: Use a peeler to peel off orange rind.
Step 4: Add sliced lemon and orange rinds into the pot.
Step 5: Add in the spices and vanilla extract.
Step 6: Allow mulled wine to simmer. Stir occasionally and avoid boiling. Once you see steam, turn off heat.
Step 7: Serve in a mug and enjoy!