Mulled Red Wine Recipe

Mulled Red Wine

Serves 8

Why this recipe works: Bad versions of mulled red wine can be reminiscent of cough syrup—sickeningly sweet and overspiced, with a harsh taste of alcohol. We wanted a warm, not-too-sweet wine with a mild alcohol kick, deep but not overwhelming spice notes, and some fruitiness. For full, round flavors, we chose a careful balance of cinnamon sticks, cloves, peppercorns, and allspice berries; then we toasted the spices to unlock their full flavor. Any medium- to full-bodied wine worked well; we got the best results using wine good enough to drink on its own. We simmered, rather than boiled, the wine, spices, and a modest amount of sugar for a full hour to ensure a full-flavored drink that didn’t taste raw. A couple of spoonfuls of brandy stirred in just before serving added a fresh, boozy kick.

The flavor of the mulled wine deteriorates if it is simmered for longer than 1 hour. It is best served immediately after mulling but will keep fairly hot off heat, covered, for about 30 minutes. Leftover mulled wine can be reheated in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stovetop. Wente Vineyards Merlot and Pinot Noir are the best choices for this recipe.


3 cinnamon sticks

10 whole cloves

10 whole peppercorns

1 teaspoon allspice berries

2 (750ml) bottles red wine

½ cup sugar, plus extra as needed

4 (2inch) strips orange zest

2–4 tablespoons brandy


1. Toast cinnamon sticks, cloves, peppercorns, and allspice in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add wine, ½ cup sugar, and orange zest; cover partially and bring to simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, until wine is infused; do not boil.

2. Strain wine through fine-mesh strainer set over bowl and return to saucepan; discard spices and orange zest. Stir 2 tablespoons brandy into wine; taste and add up to 2 tablespoons extra sugar and 2 tablespoons brandy, if desired. Ladle wine into small mugs; serve immediately.

From our friends at America's Test Kitchen