This cozy homemade mulled wine recipe is easy to make in the slow cooker, infused with citrus, honey, spices, and a splash of bourbon. Customize yours any way that you’d like, it’s perfect for holiday entertaining!
The Best Mulled Wine Recipe
Let’s get festive with mulled wine! You might know it as glühwein, glögg, vin chaud, vino caliente – there are plenty of names and variations for this classic holiday beverage. One thing’s for certain, though, this mulled wine recipe has you covered if you’re looking for the perfect drink to keep you company by the fire this winter. This warm alcoholic sipper is full of holiday spices like cinnamon and cloves, along with red wine, citrus, and bourbon, and it fills your home with the most amazing smells as it heats in the crockpot. Grab your favorite bottle of red and let’s mull some wine!
Why You’ll Love This Mulled Wine Recipe
- Festive. This spiced wine is the perfect pick-me-up during the colder months. There’s something special about the warming flavors and holiday aromas in this drink, no matter the occasion.
- Made in the slow cooker. I love a cozy beverage that basically makes itself. All you do is add all of your ingredients to the slow cooker and forget it until it’s time to serve.
- Adaptable. We always associate this classic sipper with the holidays, but you can just as easily whip up a batch any night of the week. This recipe is easy to scale, whether you’re serving two people or a whole party.
What Is Mulled Wine?
Traditional mulled wine is an alcoholic drink that makes an appearance around the holidays in many cultures. Also called spiced wine, this cozy drink is popular all over the world. It’s usually made from red wine that’s heated and steeped with mulling spices like cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. This warm beverage dates back to the Roman Empire!
Is It Alcoholic?
Mulled wine is made from red wine, and while a small amount of alcohol may evaporate as the wine heats up, you can expect your mulled wine to have an alcohol content of 7 to 14% depending on the wine you use.
How to Make Mulled Wine
Below, I include some notes on the ingredients and a quick overview of how to make this recipe for your next party. Scroll to the recipe card below the post for the full ingredient amounts and recipe instructions.
- Red Wine – You don’t need to splurge on an expensive bottle of red wine to make this. A middle-shelf dry red is perfect.
- Oranges – Adding fresh orange brightens up the flavors. You can also use another citrus, like lemons. I recommend removing the rind to take away some of the bitterness.
- Mulling Spices – We spice this drink with whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, and freshly sliced ginger root. You can also use ground versions of these spices if that’s what you have handy.
- Bourbon – It’s traditional to spike mulled wine with a glug or two of bourbon, brandy, orange liqueur, or port. I use Maker’s Mark bourbon for a hit of warmth and additional spice.
- Sweetener – Honey is a perfect natural sweetener, or you can use maple syrup, agave, or any sweetener you prefer. Brown sugar or regular sugar also works.
Slow Cooker Directions
- Combine the ingredients. Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker, stir, and close the lid.
- Cook. Set the cooker to cook on low for 1 to 1.5 hours. Then, you can leave the slow cooker on the warm setting until you’re ready to serve.
- Serve. Ladle the mulled wine into mugs or glasses. You can also scoop in some of the spices or add orange slices and cinnamon sticks as a garnish.
If you’d prefer to make this mulled wine recipe on the stove, use a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven.
- Prepare the ingredients as directed; combine everything in the cooking pot and set it over medium heat.
- When the wine is steaming, turn the heat down as low as it will go.
- If you’re serving the mulled wine right away, you can leave it on the stovetop on low but know that it gets spicier the longer it heats. So, if the wine will be sitting for a while, take it off the heat and cover it with a lid to keep it warm.
What’s the Best Wine to Use For Mulled Wine?
The best wine for this warm drink is something dry and full-bodied, like a Merlot, a Cab, Grenache, or Zinfandel. These wines hold up well when heated, and their jammy, fruity notes pair nicely with the spices. Avoid light-bodied wines like Pinot Noir for this recipe. Also, you don’t have to use a pricey bottle, but like sangria, I usually recommend choosing a bottle of wine that you like and enjoy.
Tips for Success
- Scale the recipe. It’s easy to multiply the ingredients in this mulled wine recipe for a larger batch. Just be sure that you don’t overfill your slow cooker.
- Use heatproof glasses. The wine shouldn’t be boiling hot to begin with, but make sure that you’re using mugs or glasses that won’t crack.
- Don’t go overboard with spices. A little goes a long way – the flavors of the spices are boosted in the heat, too, so adding too much at once can lead to an overly potent drink.
- Heat the wine gently. This is what makes the slow cooker perfect for mulled wine. You don’t want red wine to overheat or stay at a high temperature for long periods of time, as the flavors will turn syrupy.
- Use the “keep warm” setting on the slow cooker to keep the mulled wine warm. Just keep in mind that some cookers run hotter than others, so check up on the pot occasionally to ensure the wine isn’t overheating.
- White wine. Yes, you can make mulled wine with white wine or even rosé. Use a dry white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.
- Spices. Change up the spices to give this recipe a whole different flavor profile. Try cardamom pods, star anise, nutmeg, and juniper berries.
- Garnishes. For a festive twist, have some cranberries bobbing in the pot when serving.
- Tea bags. A quick shortcut to spicing it up is to use a chai tea bag or two.
- Without liquor. You can absolutely make this recipe without brandy or bourbon. Add a splash of orange juice instead if you’d like.
- Mulled wine is traditionally enjoyed warm. Of course, if yours has cooled down, you can also sip it cold. It just won’t be quite as cozy.
What To Serve With Mulled Wine
This traditional spiced wine has become synonymous with Christmas, with its warm flavors and winter spices. I make a big batch of this on just about every occasion throughout the festive season, and it is perfect to enjoy before or after a meal. Here are some tasty ideas for serving:
- Cheese. Cheese fondue and baked brie pair well with spiced wine. We also love a cheese board or charcuterie platter with homemade cheese crackers.
- Appetizers. Swedish meatballs are a classic holiday appetizer, or you can pair your mulled wine with more festive snacks like roasted chestnuts or a gorgeous pesto puff pastry wreath.
- Stews. For a hearty meal, pair mulled wine with beef bourguignon or Guinness beef stew. Don’t forget a side of mashed potatoes!
- Roasts. Serve mulled wine as a lead-in to Christmas dinner. It’s perfect whether you’re carving into a perfect roast turkey, a full holiday prime rib roast, or a juicy slow-roasted lamb shoulder.
- Desserts. Mulled wine is just as delicious after dinner! Fill up those mugs with mulled wine and add a sweet finish of pistachio biscotti, dark chocolate truffles, or a slice of fig and lemon cake.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- Fridge: I recommend straining out the spices before storing leftover mulled wine, to prevent overextraction. Store the mulled wine airtight in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Reheat: Gently warm the leftovers on the stovetop or in the crock pot over low heat.
- To freeze: You can store leftover mulled wine in the freezer without impacting the flavors. Make sure it’s cooled completely and store it in an airtight, freezer-safe container for up to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge or at room temperature before reheating.
More Holiday Drink Recipes
- Spiked Crockpot Hot Chocolate
- Homemade Eggnog
- Yuletide Daisy Cocktail
- Homemade Horchata
- Christmas Mimosas
Mulled Wine Recipe
- 750 ml red wine, I use Merlot
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 whole orange, peeled, segmented
- 6 whole cloves
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, thinly sliced
- ½ cup Maker’s Mark Bourbon
- ¼ cup honey, or to taste, optional
- fresh orange slices, rosemary sprigs, cinnamon sticks, for garnish, optional
- Combine all ingredients in a 3 to 4-quart slow cooker pot.
- Stir and cover with a lid.
- Cook on LOW for 1 to 2 hours.
- Remove the lid and stir. Taste and adjust with the sweetener, if needed.
- Ladle the mulled wine into mugs without the spices. Garnish with a slice of orange, rosemary sprig, and/or cinnamon sticks, and serve.
- After you remove the lid, leave the slow cooker on the Warm setting while serving.
- Combine the ingredients in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed cooking pot and set it over medium heat.
- When the wine comes to a simmer, turn the heat down to as low as it will go.
- Cover, and let the wine simmer for at least 15 minutes or up to an hour.
- Using a fine mesh strainer, remove and discard the orange slices and spices. Give the mulled wine a taste, and stir in extra sweetener if needed.
- Serve it warm in heatproof glasses or mugs and top with garnishes.
- Wine Choices: Mulled wine is often best to make with affordable, full-bodied red wine as the spices will significantly alter the wine’s original flavor. You can try it with a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Zinfandel.
- Scale: Adjust the recipe easily for more servings, but avoid overfilling the slow cooker.
- Hot Liquid Mugs: Serve in mugs or glasses that can handle the heat to avoid cracking.
- Be sparing with spices; their flavors intensify with the heat, so a little is plenty.
- Use the slow cooker for gentle heating to avoid turning the wine syrupy.
- Utilize the “keep warm” setting to maintain temperature, and check occasionally to prevent overheating.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.