Mulled Wine is a Christmas tradition for so many households. It has a rich history and even richer taste from combination of mulling spices, aromatic red wine, orange, honey, orange liqueur and brandy. So easy to make in about 20 minutes and you can easily keep it warm in a slow cooker during a holiday party.
Mulled Wine is a world-famous warm, spiced wine cocktail that people enjoy during the cold weather. It has a long history going back to the Roman times when Romans heated their wine to keep warm in the winter. Throughout history, popularity of drinking warm wine spread throughout Europe. Each country had their own name for this drink and their own ingredients they liked to add, like herbs, spices, and flowers.
Eventually, mulled wine became a traditional Christmas drink in many regions. When it starts to get colder outside, nothing is more pleasant that to stay warm inside with a mug full of spiced, warm mulled wine.
It’s such an easy drink to make for family nights and holiday parties. The most traditional way of making mulled wine is with red wine, spices, orange, sweetener, and often and addition of another liquor like brandy or port. Some recipes also call for an addition of cider but personally, I believe it dulls the flavors of wine so I let wine and spices shine.
INGREDIENTS YOU NEED
Red wine – I am believe that best ingredients give you the best results and that is especially true for cooking with wine. Pick wine that you like to drink on its own, and that wine will give you the best tasting mulled wine as well. Bad wine will still come through in taste even after you throw in extra spices and sweetener.
Sweetener – of course, you can choose to use sugar but I love adding honey instead, especially orange blossom honey. Honey contributes to the overall flavor and it does have vitamins that sugar does not.
Orange – use both, orange peel and juice from the oranges. To get orange peel, use a vegetable peeler to just get the outer orange zest. Try not to get the white pith or it will add bitterness.
Mulling spice – mulling spice varies from country to country, from region to region so there is no one simple recipe. Spices depend on personal taste and this combination is what I always add to my mix. I always use cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, whole allspice, and anise. Depending on availability, I also add whole cardamom pods. Other spices to consider are whole nutmeg, dried ginger, and peppercorns. Remember, you do not want to use any ground spices!
Brandy and orange liqueur – adding sweet and aromatic liqueurs is a great way to enhance the flavor of the cocktail. It also adds more alcohol to compensate for the some that evaporates during the cooking process.
HOW TO MAKE MULLED WINE ON STOVETOP
Stovetop is by far the fastest and easiest way to make mulled wine. I like to use a reusable tea bag or tea infuser to hold all the spices together (except cinnamon sticks). It’s not necessary but helps keep spices together if some break apart.
Use a vegetable peeler to peel zest off the oranges and make sure to just get the zest and not the white pith. Squeeze the juices from the oranges into the pot. Add orange peel, honey, red wine, and spices. Whisk everything together to make sure honey is well incorporated.
Bring the wine mixture to simmer slowly, over medium to medium-low heat. Simmer for just 7-10 minutes and add brandy and orange liqueur.
Pour wine through a fine mesh strainer into the mugs and garnish with an orange twist.
HOW TO MAKE IT IN A SLOW COOKER
Making mulled wine in a slow cooker is good for parties because you can easily keep it warm during the party.
Combine red wine, orange peel, orange juice, honey, and spices in a slow cooker. Whisk to incorporate honey and juice into the wine.
Close the slow cooker lid and cook on low for about an hour. Open the lid and stir in brandy and orange liqueur.
Pour wine through a fine mesh strainer and either serve all of it or pour back into the slow cooker to keep warm for the guests.
Set the slow cooker to a warm setting to keep mulled wine warm if needed.
HOW TO MAKE IT IN AN INSTANT POT
Combine red wine, orange peel, orange juice, honey, and spices in an Instant Pot. Whisk to incorporate honey and juice into the wine.
Close the lid and make sure it’s latched. Make sure to close the valve and double check your manufacturing guide to close and open the pressure cooker properly. Set to pressure cook on high for 3 minutes.
Carefully use a quick release to let out the pressure before opening the lid. (Consult the manufacturing guide for your pressure cooker for exact steps.)
Stir in brandy and orange liqueur and strain mulled wine through a fine mesh strainer.
Pour into mugs, garnish with an orange peel, and serve.
DOES ALCOHOL COOK OUT OF MULLED WINE?
This was my first question years ago, when I first started making mulled wine. Would most alcohol cook out while the wine is simmering? How much alcohol is actually left?
First of all, there is no way to tell exactly how much alcohol evaporated while the wine is simmering and how much is retained without testing it. I do know that it depends on how long you cook it, if you keep the pot coveted with a lid, and at what temperature it’s cooked.
So yes, some alcohol will evaporate but it will evaporate less if you cook it at lower temperature. More alcohol will also evaporate the longer you cook it. So to minimize the amount of alcohol that evaporates, cook it for less time.
If you notice, I also add brandy and orange liqueur at the end of the cooking process to retain original flavors and alcohol content in the cocktail.
(Note that it will be impossible to make mulled wine non-alcoholic, no matter how long you cook it. So if you’re thinking that you can make it non-alcoholic by cooking it for a while, sorry, that will be impossible.)
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- 1.5 L rich and fruity red wine
- 2 large oranges
- 3 cinnamon sticks about 3 inches each
- 8-9 whole cloves
- 1 heaping tsp whole allspice
- 3-4 whole anise
- 6-8 whole cardamom pods
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 cup brandy
- 1/4 cup orange liqueur Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or any other
- Use a vegetable peeler to peel zest off the oranges and make sure to just get the zest and not the white pith.
- Squeeze the juices from the oranges into the pot. Add orange peel, honey, red wine, and spices. Whisk everything together to make sure honey is well incorporated.
- Bring the wine mixture to simmer slowly, over medium heat. Simmer for about 7-10 minutes and take off heat.
- Stir in brandy and orange liqueur.
- Pour wine through a fine mesh strainer into the mugs and garnish with an orange twist.