This easy mulled wine recipe is the coziest and most delicious drink to help you warm up. I grew up with it at the German Christmas Markets, where it’s called Glühwein (glow wine). I have come up with an easy, yet traditional way to make it at home and it pairs perfectly with my homemade German gingerbread cookies. All it takes is some wine, citrus, and spices.
How to make the best mulled wine
The best mulled wine in my opinion is easy to make and still tastes delicious. You don't need any exotic spices or other ingredients for this warming winter drink.
All you need is some decent wine, a few spices, lemon and orange, a little sugar or honey and that's it.
There are a few tips to help you succeed that I will share next.
In Germany, where I am from, and where 40 million liters of mulled wine (called Glühwein there) are consumed every year, we also drink a white version.
Making mulled wine at home brings back the best, warming memories from the Christmas Markets in Germany. And I love it so much! Other Christmas Market Favorite recipes are Dampfnudeln, Roasted Chestnuts and Potato Pancakes.
Another benefit of making mulled wine at home is that you can better control the sweetness level. I just add a little bit of sugar (or honey), but feel free to add more or less.
For making classic, red mulled wine, I like using lighter, lower tannin wines like Pinot Noir or Merlot. For making a white mulled wine, I like using a dry Riesling.
I would like to point out that because you're adding spices, citrus and sugar (and the optional shot of rum or cognac), you probably don't want to use your best bottles of wine for making mulled wine. But you don't want to use 'bad' wine, either.
In Germany, mulled wine or Glühwein is also made using cherry or even blueberry wines. If using a different fruit wine, play around with how much sugar you want to add as sometimes those tend to be sweeter wines.
Steep it like tea
Steeping the wine with spices and citrus for just 10 minutes helps to keep out the bitter aromas.
Similar to tea, I bring my wine to a quick boil, then turn off the heat. I then add spices like cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, sugar, sliced lemon and orange peel, and let it steep.
After the steeping time is up, I remove any add-ins and serve right away. You can at that point choose to return it to low heat to keep it warm (you just don't want it boiling anymore). If you're feeling really fun, add a 'Schuss' (shot) of rum or cognac like Germans like to do.
Need just a few seconds of visual instructions, then watch this short video showing you how easy it is to make mulled wine at home.
There are just a handful of ingredients needed to make mulled wine at home, but selecting them wisely is important.
- Wine. We love using Pinot Noir or Merlot for red or a dry Riesling for white. Don't use your best wine, but don't use bad wine, either.
- Sugar. I add just a couple of tablespoons full per bottle of wine. You could also use honey instead.
- Lemon. Using organic lemon is recommended here since you're steeping it with the peel on.
- Orange Peel. I also use organic orange since you're steeping the peel only.
- Spices. I like to keep my spices simple and I use whole spices like cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom (whole cardamom spice is less common to find, so feel free to add a pinch per bottle of ground cardamom instead).
- Optional shot. Many Germans like to drink their Glühwein 'mit Schuss' (with a shot). Commonly used added liquor is either rum or cognac.
Easy Mulled Wine
- 1 bottle wine 750 ml or 3 cups. For red I use a low tannin wine like Pinot Noir or Merlot. If making a white version (like it's also common to drink in Germany), use a dry Riesling. Don't use the best wine.
- 1 lemon organic, cut into slices
- ½ orange organic, peel only
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cloves
- 1 cardamom pod or one pinch of ground cardamom
- rum or cognac to add an optional shot right before serving
- Pour wine into a small pot and add the sliced lemon. Cover with a lid and heat over medium heat until just starting to boil. Turn off the heat.1 bottle wine, 1 lemon
- Stir in spices, sugar and orange peel, and steep with the lid on for 10 minutes.½ orange, 3 Tablespoons sugar, 1 cinnamon stick, 3 cloves, 1 cardamom pod
- Remove the fruit and spices and serve with an optional shot of rum or cognac. If wanting to keep warm, return to low heat.rum or cognac