How to make homemade mulled wine that will warm you to your bones

A person's hand holding a white mug full of mulled wine out in front of them
Mulled wine can be spiced with cinnamon, clove, star anise, and more. Vitalika Popkova/Getty Images
  • Mulled wine is primarily made up of red wine, whole spices, and a touch of sweetener.
  • Stick to the basics and just infuse the wine with mulling spices or fortify it with a dash of brandy.
  • Mulling spices are customizable, but often include cinnamon, cloves, and star anise.
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A mug of hot chocolate or apple cider will certainly warm you up on a chilly day. But if you want to take your cold-weather beverage options to a new level, mulled wine is the perfect fit.

Mulled wine, also known as Gluhwein, is a mixture of red wine, mulling spices, and a hint of sugar or honey for sweetness. The drink has Roman roots, dating back to the second century. “They would heat their wine, and the spices were believed to have health benefits,” says Tiffany Stetson, general manager of retail sales for Goose Ridge Winery.

As the Romans began to conquer Europe they brought their tradition of making mulled wine with them. In 1843, the ever-popular classic “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens mentioned mulled wine, perhaps playing a role in why it’s so popular around the holidays today.

Now, mulled wine is most often served up when the weather cools, offering a drink to warm you up from within. “It’s a simple and inexpensive alternative to having a specialty cocktail,” says Stetson. “Just the smell welcomes friends and family and creates a cozy and warm atmosphere.” It is a great option to serve for holiday parties or family get-togethers, and it’s quite simple to make a batch at home.

What are mulling spices?

Mulling spices are the combination of spices used to flavor mulled wine. They can be used to flavor other warm beverages such as apple cider as well.

A typical blend of mulling spices includes whole cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and star anise. However, other spices such as allspice berries, nutmeg, ginger, or black peppercorn may be added, along with citrus fruits such as orange, clementine, or lemon peel.

Tips and tricks for the best mulled wine

  • Use decent wine. Your mulled wine will only be as good as its base. Use your favorite wine or opt for a middle-shelf option. Cheap wine won’t produce as delicious results.
  • Don’t let the wine boil. Avoid overheating your mulled wine. Boiling the wine can cook off the alcohol and reduce the total amount of liquid in your pot.
  • Use whole spices. You’ll achieve better flavor, aroma, and mouthfeel with whole spices, rather than ground. Ground spices will result in gritty mulled wine.
  • Don’t overdo the spices. Mulled wine is all about creating balance. Adding too many spices will create an unpleasant taste.
  • Keep the leftovers. Keep your leftovers or pre-batch mulled wine to enjoy any time. Allow the mulled wine to cool, remove the spices, and fill canning jars with the mixture to store in the fridge. When you need just one or two servings, warm it up in a mug or on the stovetop.

Insider’s takeaway

Mulled wine is a festive warm beverage to enjoy with your family at home or to serve to your friends at a party. It makes for a wonderful way to introduce comforting aromas into the house, all while dishing up a tasty drink.

It’s a great way to dress up wine for the holidays, especially if you start with a bottle of red you already love. Just remember, you can certainly get creative and come up with your own favorite mixture of mulling spices to best suit your palate.

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