What to know before making mulled wine

·4-min read
Photo credit: Getty
Photo credit: Getty

Nothing says Christmas quite like a mug of mulled wine and a carol or two. And while you can buy preprepared mulled wine in most supermarkets, it’s easy to make at home and more cost-effective if you’re hosting a crowd this party season.

Our classic mulled wine recipe is a classic for a reason. Better yet, you can experiment with fragrant herbs, spices, and fresh citrus, as well as liqueurs and spirits (think: spiced rum, sloe gin, and brandy), to find your own festive favourite.

What wine is best for mulled wine?

It’ll come as no surprise that the most important element of any mulled wine recipe is… the red wine. There’s no need to blow the budget here; a mid-range, easy-drinking red with a juicy fruit-forward aroma is perfect. As a rule of thumb, look for young, unoaked reds like a Spanish tempranillo, French merlot, or an Australian shiraz.

Making wine for a bigger crowd? Opt for boxed wine instead. The quality of boxed wine today is seriously impressive and often more budget-friendly than buying individual bottles.

What flavourings can you add to mulled wine?

Cloves, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg and vanilla are all quintessentially Christmassy. Our classic mulled wine recipe adds orange rounds and apricots for added natural sweetness, but you can add sugar or honey to balance the spices, too.

Spices should be gathered in a muslin pouch or bag and then placed in the wine to infuse (that way, you avoid any guests choking on smaller floating spices!). If you’re serving the mulled wine punch style, then feel free to add cinnamon sticks and dried orange slices for added visual appeal.

Mulled wine spices sachet

A homemade mulled wine kit can make a thoughtful gift, or you can stock up on these DIY mulled wine spice sachets for the festive season.

This recipe will make six sachets.


  • 12 x 20.5 cm squares of muslin

  • 250g demerara sugar

  • 24 whole cloves

  • 30 whole allspice

  • 6 x 30.5 cm lengths of string

  • 6 bay leaves

  • 6 cinnamon sticks

  • 6 star anise


Lay out six muslin squares and cover each with another square. Weigh out 40g of sugar onto each of the six squares. Add four cloves and five whole allspice to each bundle plus 1 star anise, 1 bay leaf and 1 cinnamon stick. Bring all the muslin together and secure each with a length of string.

When you're ready to make the mulled wine pour a bottle of wine into a large pan. Add a slice each of lemon and orange and the spice sachet. Bring just to the boil and simmer gently for 15min. Remove the spice sachet, lemon and orange and serve.

What other ingredients can I add to mulled wine?

Looking for a real party starter? Why not add a splash of sloe gin, Cointreau, Grand Marnier or ginger wine to your mulled wine. 'Tis the season, after all.

Another Good Housekeeping favourite is Ableforth's Christmas Mulled Cup. Packed with citrus and spice, this liqueur is made for mulled wine. We love adding a shot to prosecco for a suitably festive spritz, too.

What to do with leftover mulled wine

Mulled wine makes an excellent addition to both braised red cabbage and homemade cranberry sauce. For those with a sweet tooth, steep pears in leftover mulled wine and serve with ice cream, or try our mulled wine yule log stump cake.

Photo credit: Oscar Hather - Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Oscar Hather - Hearst Owned

Mulled wine serving suggestions

Mulled wine is ideally served steaming but not scolding.

We recommend serving your mulled wine with a selection of Christmas canapés; we can't get enough of these honey and almond glazed chipolatas and ham and blue cheese straws.

Other mulled drinks to enjoy

Mulled gin: Our mulled gin recipe is infused with cinnamon, vanilla and cardamon. This is delicious served as a long drink with cloudy apple juice.

Mulled pomegranate gin: This gin recipe is infused with cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger (and of course pomegranate seeds). It makes a wonderfully festive G&T.

Mulled cranberry and raspberry punch: This punch uses cranberry juice and frozen raspberries and is infused with cinnamon, cloves and orange. We've also added crème de framboise, but you can leave this out if you'd prefer.

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