Mulled wine, the wine drinker's version of a classic hot toddy, is a traditional holiday treat in many Old World countries. Dubbed "glögg" in Nordic nations and "glühwein" in Germany, mulled wine has been warming people up since Roman times when people heated up their wine to offset harsh winter weather. Typically made with red wine, this sweetened, spiced, and heated mixture offers a delightful alternative to traditional hot coffees and ciders. Brandy adds a little extra sweetness.
A fruit-forward wine is best for this recipe. Wines with very nuanced flavors will be lost to the spices, brandy, and fruit. Try a dark, fruity red wine such as a cabernet sauvignon, Tempranillo, Grenache, zinfandel, or merlot. Choose a bottle of wine that you'd drink as-is: the quality of the mulled wine depends on the quality of the wine. A moderately-priced, good quality wine will do just fine, but avoid cheap or boxed wines as they'll yield a low-quality spiced wine.
Although heating up the wine will make some of the alcohol content in the wine to evaporate, this is still an alcoholic drink, enhanced also by the addition of Brandy. It's ideal for cold winter days—there is nothing cozier than a toasty mug of mulled wine. Lightly sweet, spiced, and fruity, it will warm you from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. It's also easy to make and perfect for a winter night in or a holiday gathering.
Click Play to See This Recipe Come Together
- 1 medium orange (peeled and sliced; keep the peel)
- 8 to 10 cloves
- 3 sticks cinnamon
- 2 teaspoon ginger (fresh, cut in 8 to 10 small pieces; or 2 teaspoons ground ginger)
- 1/3 cup honey (or sugar)
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 1 (750-milliliter) bottle red wine
Gather the ingredients.
To make the perfect cup of mulled wine, combine all of the ingredients in either a large pot or a slow cooker.
Gently warm the ingredients on low to medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes. Avoid boiling or simmering.
Stir occasionally to make sure that the honey or sugar has dissolved completely. When the wine is steaming and the ingredients have been infused, it is ready to serve.
Ladle the mulled wine into mugs. Leave the whole seasonings behind, or strain the mulled wine before serving. Garnish each mug with a slice of orange and a sick of cinnamon.
Making Large Batches of Mulled Wine
If you're expecting a crowd:
- Use two bottles of wine (or one magnum) and double the remaining ingredients, but start with half the amount of honey or sugar, taste halfway through the cooking process, and adjust if needed. The honey can make a very sweet beverage, and when cooking the wine the flavor can get too intense.
- Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker or leave in a pot on the lowest possible setting to keep warm without over-cooking. If the mixture spends too much time on the heat, the flavor can become too intense since some of the water evaporates off.
- Toss in a few whole, fresh cranberries at the end for a festive look.
How Strong is a Mug of Mulled Wine
Mulled wine without brandy has an average ABV of eight to 13 percent (26 proof) per mug, like a normal glass of wine (in a 5-ounce serving). But when spiced with Brandy at 60 percent ABV (120 proof) the alcohol content can increase to 16 to 18 percent (32 to 36 proof) per mug. Consider that there's going to be some evaporation but not enough to diminish the percentage of alcohol considerably.