While I love coming up with unique Christmas cocktails, there is always room at the table for the classics, like this Hot Spiced Wine recipe inspired by Jamie Oliver.
I first shared this Mulled Wine recipe on my friend Amanda’s site.
Hot Spiced Wine Recipe
While I’m not one to stick up my nose at a mug of hot chocolate spiked with Irish Cream, there is something so festive and special about ladling out mugs of hot mulled wine for your guests to help warm their bones after they’ve been out in the cold.
What is mulled wine? The traditional name for a hot spiced wine, mulled wine is typically a red wine that has been spiced, sweetened and heated. Often cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, anise, allspice, and vanilla are used to spice the wine, and citrus or apples are often added for a fruity infusion. Red wine is traditionally used, although some people like to mix things up with a white wine. Sometimes, people like to add liquor to really get their blood moving – anything from vodka, brandy, rum, sherry, whiskey, etc.
An alcohol-free version using juice would be referred to as a mulled cider.
Mulled Wine Spices are often sold in jars around the holidays and every mixture is different. You can easily make your own – and I encourage you to try because there may be a spice or two included in the mixes that you’re not a fan of. (Even though I’m featuring anise in this recipe, I’m planning on leaving it out in subsequent batches as I hate the liquoricey taste.) Try a combination of a few of the following:
- bay leaves
Now I have to give credit where credit is due.
I have never had mulled wine in my life previous to making this recipe, so I went to an authority on the topic – Mr. Jamie Oliver. Mulled wine makes me think of Olde English Christmastime and European Christmas Markets, so I figure a European chef (and one with a Christmas cookbook to boot) has got to know a thing or two about a proper mulled wine.
My recipe does differ a little bit from Jamie’s in one important area – mine is less sweet, and I truly don’t think I could have drank it if I hadn’t toned down the sweetness.
If you’d prefer to try it Jamie’s way, leave out the oranges that my recipe calls for, use two full cups of sugar, add in 3 fresh bay leaves. (He also used slightly less cinnamon and cloves than I did.)
Mulled wines originated as a way to dress up cheap or poor tasting wines, but let’s be honest – it’s kind of like that whole “putting lipstick on a pig” metaphor. It’s still going to taste like cheap wine. If you wouldn’t drink the wine plain, don’t think about adding it to your mulled wine!
The Best Wine for Mulled Wine is a fruity, medium- to full-bodied wine that doesn’t have a bold flavor on it’s own. You want a high alcohol percentage so it can withstand a gentle heating. Don’t feel like you need to grab an expensive bottle, as there are many Portuguese and Italian wines are super affordable and you can find some great varieties under $10 that will work perfectly. Avoid delicate wines like a Pinot Noir, Gamay, or Beaujolais.
Some of the Best Wine Varieties for Mulled Wine:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
Personally, I opted for a less than $9 bottle of Julia Florista, a Portuguese blended wine that is incredibly sippable, not sweet, and sits at a decent 13% alcohol volume. (It’s my current go-to bottle.)
Mulled Wine Ingredients
- 1-2 cups sugar, to taste
- 2 oranges
- 2 clementines
- 1 lemon
- 1 lime
- 8 whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- Whole nutmeg
- Vanilla pod
- 2-star anise pods
- 2 bottles red wine
Tip: feel free to reduce this recipe by half if you’d prefer to start with just one bottle. This recipe halves and doubles well.
Kitchen Tools You May Find Helpful
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Pretty mugs
- Sharp kitchen knife
- Cutting board
How to Make Mulled Wine
Peel your rinds from your citrus fruits before cutting them and juicing them. Split the vanilla pod down the center.
Combine the sugar, citrus juices, citrus peels, the split vanilla pod and spices in a saucepan. Add just enough wine to cover the sugar.
Heat over medium heat until bubbling, and then allow the mixture to reduce by half.
Turn heat to low and add the remaining wine. Heat through before serving.
Serve with cinnamon sticks, fresh citrus slices, and a star anise garnish, if desired.
Mulled wine can be enjoyed warm or cold but most people enjoy it warm.
Grab your free printable for our mulled wine recipe:
This hot spiced wine (or hot mulled wine) is a traditional and festive recipe to add to your Christmas festivities.