8 best mulled wines to warm your cockles this Christmas

·7-min read
Assessing depth, balance, flavour and drinkability, we made sure to include a non-alcoholic option in our list  (iStock/The Independent)
Assessing depth, balance, flavour and drinkability, we made sure to include a non-alcoholic option in our list (iStock/The Independent)

Very few things can inspire festive spirit as instantly as the smell of mulled wine.

With a millennia-old history that started with the Romans, who heated wine as a defence against harsh winter weather, and continued over subsequent centuries with the addition of different spice blends and sweeteners, mulled wine is now a Christmas institution.

Like its European cousins, gluhwein or glögg, mulled wine recipes vary according to region, but the basic formula of heated red wine flavoured by mulling spices and fruit is one that’s been enthusiastically taken up by supermarkets and artisan producers alike in recent years.

While mulling your own wine remains a popular option, there are now more ready-made alternatives than ever before on the shelves, each offering their own take on this festive staple.

How we tested

We sampled a wide range of the available options, assessing for depth, balance, flavour and drinkability, with each served according to the accompanying instructions.

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From sophisticated spiced wines to fruity, full-bodied gluhweins to get the party started, not to mention options for designated drivers, here are eight bottles worth sharing with friends and family this festive period.

The best mulled wines for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Top Cuvée x Selfridges special-edition mulled wine, Selfridges.com

  • Best Christmas party all-rounder – Adnam’s mulled wine, 75cl: £6.99, Adnams.co.uk

  • Best organic option – Daylesford organic mulled wine, 75cl: £12.50, Daylesford.com

  • Best for well-balanced easy drinking – M&S red mulled wine, 75cl: £5, Ocado.com

  • Best for entry-level elegance – Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference mulled wine, 75cl: £5, Sainsburys.co.uk

  • Best for sophisticated soirees and gifting – Harvey Nichols mulled wine, 75cl: £16.50, Harveynichols.com

  • Best for sweet-toothed celebrations – Aldi gingerbread mulled wine: £3.99, Aldi.co.uk

  • Best non-alcoholic option – Belvoir Farm mulled winter punch, 75cl: £2.80, Ocado.com

  • Best for fans of spice – Glühwein by Felix Solis mulled wine, 75cl: £5.50, Tesco.com

Top Cuvée x Selfridges special-edition mulled wine

Best: Overall

Rating: 9/10

North London natural wine specialist Top Cuvée already has previous offerings when it comes to elevated versions on traditional mulled wine, with its own in-house bottle based on young rioja proving popular after launching last year. Now it’s teamed up with Selfridges to create a special-edition bottle for the department store that’s equally sophisticated. Hints of frankincense, star anise, cinnamon and nutmeg sit alongside hits of orange and lemon peel in a well-balanced blend with liquorice notes that – with a 13.5 per cent alcohol content – delivers a hefty, high-calibre way to kick off your celebrations. Plus the label design is top notch.

Buy now £16.99, Selfridges.com

Adnam’s mulled wine, 75cl

Best: Christmas party all-rounder

Rating: 8/10

While wine that bears the label of a British brewery might not sound particularly convincing, Suffolk-based ale-specialist Adnam’s has been steadily adding its name to an increasingly impressive roster of wines. This vibrant mulled wine is testament to Adnam’s growing reputation. Bold, fragrant aromas and a flavour profile with plenty of depth sees prominent cinnamon and clove notes alongside a hint of vanilla, all of which adds intensity to a full-bodied red wine base that packs plenty of punch.

Buy now £6.99, Adnams.co.uk

Daylesford organic mulled wine, 75cl

Best: Organic option

Rating: 9/10

Known for its organic, sustainable and seasonal produce, this award-winning Cotwolds farm turns its attention to the mulled wine market this year with this delicately spiced and beautifully balanced offering. Mulled in small batches using organic Spanish red wine and star anise, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, it has citrus notes thanks to the addition of orange juice and zest. Fragrant but not overpowering and boasting an ABV of 11 per cent, it’s an elegant mulled wine that we found particularly enjoyable served with festive canapes.

Buy now £12.50, Daylesford.com

M&S red mulled wine, 75cl

Best: For well-balanced easy drinking

Rating: 8/10

While many cheaper mulled wines can prove overly sweet and dramatically spiced, Marks & Spencer’s offering is a brilliantly balanced option at an excellent price point. Its rich, fruity red wine base is satisfyingly dry in the mouth, while strong nutmeg and clove notes are festive without proving overpowering. We also found that supplementing the wine with additional orange segments during its preparation really brought out its flavour well.

Buy now £5.00, Ocado.com

Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference mulled wine, 75cl

Best: For entry-level elegance

Rating: 7/10

At just a fiver a bottle, there’s a lot to love with this sophisticated bottle from the Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference range. With a silky smooth German red wine from tempranillo grapes as its base, this medium-bodied winter warmer hits all the right festive notes, combining cinnamon and cloves with an uplifting citrus hit, while subtle but tangible vanilla notes give it an elegance that belies its affordable price point.

Buy now £5.00, Sainsburys.co.uk

Harvey Nichols mulled wine, 75cl

Best: For sophisticated soirees and gifting

Rating: 8/10

Arriving in sleek, all-white packaging and a matching stoppered bottle, this limited-edition mulled wine from Harvey Nichols is an impressive way to make an entrance at any festive gathering. Rather than opt for spicy Spanish base wines, this bottle uses a variety sourced from the Zellertal Rheinhessen and Pfalz regions of Germany. Blended with traditional spices including cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg – it has resulted in a beautifully nuanced drop that, although sits at the more expensive end of the spectrum, is incredibly drinkable.

Buy now £16.50, Harveynichols.com

Aldi gingerbread mulled wine

Best: For sweet-toothed celebrations

Rating: 7/10

Combining two festive staples in one bottle, Aldi’s special-edition gingerbread mulled wine is a heady, intensely fragrant drink sure to fill your kitchen with Christmassy scents. At 8 per cent it carries a lower ABV than most of the other bottles we sampled and the intensity of its spices pushes its barely discernible red wine base to the background. While its saccharine sweetness definitely won’t be for everyone, not least those who value their teeth, if you’re a fan of autumn’s pumpkin-spice frenzy, this might be the perfect festive tipple for you.

Buy now £3.99, Aldi.co.uk

Belvoir Farm mulled winter punch, 75cl

Best: Non-alcoholic option

Rating: 8/10

For non-drinkers and designated drivers alike, Leicestershire’s Belvoir Farm has created a festive drink that, despite a zero ABV, packs plenty of spice and flavour. Made from red grape, elderberry, orange and blackcurrant juice with a hit of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg, we found it to be a zesty, refreshing mulled wine alternative that provided a warming welcome home after a wintery walk. It can also be added to traditional mulled wine to create a fruity, less boozy hybrid.

Buy now £2.80, Ocado.com

Glühwein by Felix Solis mulled wine, 75cl

Best: For fans of spice

Rating: 8/10

With fragrant notes that bring its associations with Germany’s Christmas markets to the fore, Tesco’s Glühwein is a fairly priced option that, clocking in at 12 per cent, is a guaranteed winter warmer. We enjoyed its depth of flavour, with big, bold cinnamon and clove notes adding further weight to a vibrant base wine of tempranillo. Courtesy of central Spain’s Felix Solis winery, the tempranillo – with grippy tannins and plenty of red berry flavours – ensures it’s an affordable yet characterful way to bring home the festive spirit.

Buy now £5.50, Tesco.com

The verdict: Mulled wine

The majority of the wines tested clocked in at a similar price point, with differentiating factors found in the quality of the base wine and complexity of flavours delivered by the mulling spices. However, the Selfridges collaboration with natural wine experts Top Cuvée provides a sensory step up, with its nuanced notes of frankincense, liquorice and citrus delivering an exciting high-end alternative and talking point this Christmas.

At the cheaper end of the scale, the M&S red mulled wine is as well balanced as it is priced, while Belvoir’s non-alcoholic mulled winter punch is a fruity alternative that ensures non-drinkers don’t miss out on the festive fun.

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on alcoholic drinks for Christmas and beyond, try the links below:

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