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How can I Make Mulled Wine?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Mulled wine is a traditional winter beverage that has been served in Europe for thousands of years. In a classic form, mulled wine is made with red wine, spices, lemon, and sugar, and served warm. Many variations on mulled wine exist, including versions with white wine or spiced drinks diluted with teas and juices, which end up tasting more like a punch. Mulled wine is an interesting and unusual beverage to add to the table of holiday drinks at a party, and is very easy to make.

To make classic mulled wine, start with a bottle of rich and rustic red wine. You do not want to waste expensive wine, as the flavor of the wine will change substantially, but be aware that very cheap wines can sometimes express strange flavors when they are mulled. It is best to stick with a solid, mid range wine from Spain or Italy.

Put the wine into a glass or enamel cooking pot; do not use a reactive substance like aluminum because it will add a strange flavor to the wine. Add spices of your choice such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice, along with grated orange zest. Warm the mixture slowly, adding in ¼ cup of sugar, and heat it for approximately 15 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to boil, or it will be ruined. It is an excellent idea to taste before serving, to make sure that the flavors are well balanced.

Garnishes for mulled wine can include cinnamon sticks, candy canes, lemon wedges, orange bark, or other holiday themed items. Try to choose a garnish that will complement and enhance the flavor of the mulled wine. To further open up the flavor of the mulled wine, make sure that you serve it in wide mouthed cups.

You can also make mulled wines with alcoholic fruit ciders, or white wine. You may want to adjust the levels of sugar and spices if you use a different base. To alter the flavor of these mulled wines further, you can dilute them with herbal teas or fruit juices, creating an interesting taste for your guests to enjoy and talk about.

While mulled wines are not widely served in the United States, they are warming and refreshing Christmas drinks, and you may find yourself growing fond of them. Visitors from many European nations will greatly enjoy the taste of home, and would probably be happy to exchange recipes and tips with you. Also be aware that mulled wine is still alcoholic, despite heating, and you may want to have alcohol free options on hand for young guests and drivers such as spiced ciders or mulled wine made with a nonalcoholic wine.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By helene55 — On Jan 29, 2011

Many mulled wine recipes can also work nicely with a strong grape juice or other type of juice; while it won't taste exactly the same as traditional mulled wine, it can be a nice option for people who don't want to drink.

By sapphire12 — On Jan 28, 2011

I like the idea of mulled wine, however I find even the milder versions to be too alcoholic for me. I do like to buy mixes of mulled wine spice, though, and add them to juice, hot tea, or even hot cocoa. It adds that taste without the feelings I get from the wine itself.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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