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Mulled wine recipe: how to make the spiced Christmas drink, best wine and glasses to use - and history explained

The markets may be closed this year, but you can still make merry at home

Published: December 16, 2020

While we may not be able to wrap our mittens around a hot cup of mulled wine as we saunter through the Christmas markets in 2020, all is not lost. 

With the right fruit, spices and wine, mulled wine is easy to make at home, and  we have provided a step-by-step guide to help you indulge in your favourite festive tipple by the fireside. 

Here’s our simple mulled wine recipe, and everything you need to know about the drink - from its history to the best receptacles to drink it from.

Where does mulled wine come from?

Thought to have been invented by the Greek father of medicine, Hippocrates, mulled wine was originally white or red, and was mixed with honey and spices.

Spices such as cloves and cinnamon were thought to have healing properties which stave off illnesses likely to spread quickly in the colder weather.

In the 2nd century A.D. Romans began drinking it as a means of staying warm throughout the bitter winter months.

Flowers and fruit were also added to sweeten the spiced wine. 

As their empire conquered Europe, the idea of heating wine to enjoy as a hot beverage spread too. 

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Why is it a Christmas tradition? 

It was not until the late 19th century that mulled wine became a festive favourite - thanks to Sweden. 

In the 1600s, the popularity of mulled wine had largely disappeared but Sweden continued to enjoy their variation of it, known as ‘Glogg’. 

In the 1890s, Glogg was shipped across Europe with images of Santa on the bottles and the association with Christmas was born. 

Is the recipe the same throughout Europe? 

While Sweden enjoys two variations - one with milk added and the other with Rhen wine (a white wine from the Rhine River valley in Germany) and honey,  other countries have also adopted different approaches. 

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For example, in Bulgaria people add honey and peppercorns while Hungarians add an extra kick with Amaretto. 

Other variations of similar drinks are also thought to stem from mulled wine - like Sangria in warmer climates. 

Scots do not tend to have their own take on the recipe, but common ingredients include nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, orange, lemon, cardamom and fennel seed. 

Sugar is also added for sweetness and the last thing to be added to the mix is wine. 

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How do I make it at home?

This quick and easy recipe calls for just six ingredients, heated on your stove top or in a slow cooker. 


  • 750 ml (1 bottle) red wine
  • 1 litre of unfiltered apple juice
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 long cinnamon sticks
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • Orange peel to decorate


Put all of the ingredients into a large saucepan or preserving pan.

Heat until the liquid is hot but not boiling.

Turn off the heat, keep covered and leave overnight to infuse. The longer the wine infuses, the more the flavour and spiciness develops.

On the day of serving, heat to a comfortable temperature and serve from a large tureen with a ladle for each cup.

This festive delight is perfect for a cosy night in with mince pies and your favourite Christmas movie. 

What’s the best wine for making mulled wine?

According to,  the fruitier the better. 

The best types of wine are Italian reds, Southern French or New World Merlot and Shiraz.

Ideally, you do not want the wine to have aged as this adds depth to the flavour which is not required for mulled wine. 

The wine should be unoaked and fruit. 

What cups or glasses should I use?

Ceramic or porcelain mugs are best for mulled wine as they will protect your hands from the heat. Otherwise, a mug with a handle would also work well. 

If you want to be particularly festive you could buy mulled wine glasses, which have a handle and wide brim, sometimes with a stem. 

These are perfect for pouring your wine into and adding garnishes, such as a slice of orange. 

Or you could use Christmas market inspired mugs, such as these red ones from MamboCat which have festive landscapes printed on them.


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