Mulled Wine Is the Drink of the Fall—Here’s How to Make It
Everything you need to know about preparing a big batch of this cozy, crowd-pleasing drink.
Sweater weather, PSLs, and bonfires are all a sign that fall is here. Next time you cozy up beneath a plaid blanket and want to reach for a hot toddy, consider making mulled wine instead. This warm, spicy, boozy beverage is super simple to make and perfect for a crowd. Make a big batch, leave it on the stove (or in a crock pot!) to stay warm, and let friends fill their glasses with a ladle or two full of mulled wine. Below, we’re sharing our step-by-step guide for how to make mulled wine, plus variations on this classic cold weather drink so you can customize it any which way you fancy.
Choose Your Base
First, choose between red or white wine. White wine will create a slightly fruitier and sweeter mulled wine. Mulled wine made with white wine pairs well with cold weather dishes like chicken pot pie or fruit-based desserts like apple pie or pear crisp. Choose a white wine that isn’t too sweet or too acidic, such as a full-bodied Chardonnay or Grenache Blanc. Shy away from Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling, both of which have high levels of acid.
For red wines, the same rules apply—choose a medium- to full-bodied red wine that’s low acidity such as Cabernet Sauvignon. Mulled red wine is delicious alongside rustic stews like Coq Au Vin or Beef Bourguignon, or a dessert made with rich figs or plums, both of which are in season in the fall and winter.
Next, Choose Your Mix-ins
A good, flavorful mulled wine takes more than just warming up a full bottle of red or white. Brandy or cognac, plus apple cider, will add more flavor, sweetness, and increase the yield of your batch. For one bottle of wine, add a half cup of pear brandy, apple brandy, or cognac, and 4 cups apple cider.
Optional: Make It a Little Sweeter
For a sweeter sip, add as little as two tablespoons and as much as a quarter cup of honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup. Make sure to whisk the sweetener of your choice in slowly and constantly until dissolved, otherwise the sugar may burn.
Finally, Add Your Aromatics
Mulled wine has an incredible warm, spicy flavor that makes you feel oh so cozy. A couple of cinnamon sticks, two to three star anise, freshly grated nutmeg, a pinch of cloves and black peppercorns, and a few fresh orange slices are what turn a regular glass of wine into a comforting, autumnal sip. There are a few ways to create the infusion. Add the aromatics in whole, then strain the wine just before serving; wrap all of the spices in cheesecloth and tie with twine; purchase a large-capacity infuser, such as this mulling spice ball from Williams-Sonoma, which can be filled with spices and removed at the end of the cooking process.
Pour wine in stemless wine glasses and serve with an orange twist, cinnamon stick, and/or freshly grated nutmeg.
Mulled Wine Recipe
- 1 bottle full-bodied white wine or medium-bodied red wine
- ¼ cup cognac or brandy
- ¼ cup honey or brown sugar
- 8 cloves
- 3 star anise
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 orange slices
Method: Heat wine and brandy in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over low heat. Whisk in sweetener until incorporated. Add spices. Heat for 20 minutes. Keep warm and covered until serving.
Yield: Approximately 6-8 people