How to Make Mulled Wine

This spiced drink with historic roots will give you serious warm and fuzzies.

Pot and glasses of mulled wine
Photo: istetiana/Getty Images

Feel that chill in the air?! With fall here to stay, it's time to pop the White Claws, rosé, and Aperol back on the shelf and tuck in for another long, cold winter. While, yeah, that sounds kind of depressing, it brings some good news: It's time for another season of favorite beverages, including pumpkin spice lattes (and, uh, hard seltzer?), apple cider, hot cocoa, and —last, but certainly not least — mulled wine.

Warm, cozy, and spicy, mulled wine has been a mainstay at holiday markets across Europe for centuries and is a wintertime favorite across many different cultures. Whether you know it as glühwein, vin chaud, or any of its other global monikers, it tastes just as delicious when made at home as it does strolling the aisles of a pumpkin patch or Christmas market. Perfect for a tailgate party or holiday party (or for a chill movie night at home), this steamy drink is the key to staying warm all fall and winter.

But what is mulled wine, exactly, and how do you make it? Orsi Szentkiralyi, an advanced sommelier and editor of National Geographic's forthcoming book, The New Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia, shares all the details.

What is Mulled Wine?

Mulled wine is (typically red) wine that's spiced with different flavors like nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon, sweetened with a bit of honey or sugar, and heated to a fantastically cozy temperature.

"Mulled wine is the perfect autumn drink," says Szentkiralyi. It's meant to be sipped on a cold day, and since a lot of the alcohol cooks out during the heating process, it's perfect for savoring slowly while curled up with a good book, she says. There's no exact recipe for mulled wine — the flavorings are mostly a matter of personal preference.

Sipping a cup of mulled wine conjures up images of a medieval dinner; wine sloshing in pewter goblets around a Game of Thrones-style dining table. Turns out, it dates back even further than that. Szentkiralyi says mulled wine actually originated in ancient Rome as a way to preserve wine and give it a longer shelf life. "In the very ancient times, wine was not meant to be kept for a very long time," she says. "Wine also had a very variable quality. Romans didn't want to waste a drop, so they fixed it up with some spices, honey, and whatever else was available. By heating it up, they could stabilize it: killing bacteria, extending its shelf-life, and adding some flavor." (

How to Make Mulled Wine At Home

It's super simple: All you need is a bottle of wine, some spices, a sweetener (such as honey or sugar) and some citrus fruit.

First, the Wine.

Szentkiralyi recommends using a light, bright, and fruity grape. Her favorites for making mulled wine: Pinot noir, Gamay, and pinotage.

For a classic glass of mulled wine with notes of cherry and blackberries, try Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages (Buy It, $13, For a glass with aromas of raspberries, black cherries, plum, and baking spices, try Joel Gott Santa Barbera Pinot Noir (Buy It, $19, For something juicy, sweet, and gently tannic, try Backsberg Kosher Pinotage (Buy It, $16,

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Joel Gott Santa Barbera Pinot Noir


Next, the Spices.

Traditional baking spices like nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice are the norm for this drink. Don't forget the sweetener like honey or sugar, and a few slices of your favorite citrus (typically oranges). For every bottle (750 mL) of wine, start with 1/4 cup of sweetener, 1 whole orange (peeled, to cut down on bitterness), and two to four tablespoons of assorted spices.

To make your life easier, you can buy the spices pre-mixed in convenient tea sachets, like these ones from William-Sonoma, Spiceology, or The Spice House —or keep an eye out for Olde Tradition Spice: Mulling Spices at your local grocery store (which, like everything, you can also buy on Amazon).

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William-Sonoma Mulling Spices Tea Sachets


Finally, Heat.

Pour the wine in a stockpot or Dutch oven (Buy It, $65,, add your flavorings and sweetener, and then bring to a gentle simmer. Stirring slowly, allow the sugar or honey to dissolve gently without burning, and the spices to infuse and become fragrant. Once the sugar is dissolved and the spices are aromatic (about ten minutes), turn off the heat, pour into your favorite mug, and start sipping!

Heck, you can even make this treat in a slow cooker (Buy It, $32, for all-day access. And for an extra boozy version, try adding a floater of apple brandy (one shot per mug should do the trick).

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Artisan Round Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

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