The Ultimate Mulled Wine

It’s the season for drinks that you can only really get away with once a year. Spiced cider, Baileys, eggnog (if you’re Americanally inclined) and gingerbread lattes abound this time of year, but no drink is more Christmassy than a glass of mulled wine.

Mulled wine has been sipped in the UK since Roman times, so it’s a seriously Christmas staple. It’s even mentioned in A Christmas Carol in the form of the Smoking Bishop (not to be confused with Stinking Bishop, though the two aren’t a bad pairing!). There are myriad recipes for making a perfect punch, but we’re not into the standard stuff, so here is our recipe for mulled magnificence.


  • 1 bottle of good wine that you’d happily drink after a long Monday
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 3 star anise
  • 4 whole cloves
  • Sliced fresh ginger
  • Grated nutmeg (10 gratings)
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 medium sized oranges
  • 2 tbs honey
  • Have some cinnamon sticks on the side for extra garnish if you’re going for the Instagram look.


  1. Cut one of your oranges into slices and put them in the pan. Squeeze the juice from the other orange and pour into the pan.
  2. Resist the urge to drink the wine, and instead pour the whole bottle into the pan.
  3. Add one tablespoon of honey, the cinnamon sticks, star cloves and star anise, ginger, nutmeg and a sliced vanilla pod.
  4. Turn on the heat and steadily bring the pan up until you see whisps of steam.
  5. Turn the temperature down to the lowest setting and let the mixture warm for 5-10 minutes, checking the sweetness throughout and adding the second spoon of honey if needed.
  6. Continue to check on the spice flavours, waiting for that perfect balance before turning off the heat.
  7. Pour into mugs, garnish with cinnamon and star anise, and sip away.

Top Tips

  1. Don’t go over-expensive on the wine, but don’t dig into the bargain bin either. You want a wine that holds flavours, big berry boldness is best. Avoid tannins at all costs, as the cooking process can enhance bitter flavours, and will make any tannic notes come out far too much. Having a little spice can help though so a young Shiraz like the Pasquiers Shiraz is perfect.
  2. Take your sweet time. Mulling wine isn’t a race. Keep the heat low and slow, let the flavours mature, and don’t boil off everything there is to enjoy! The heat makes lots of flavour come out, but if you let your mulled wine boil, all you’ll get is bitterness, in the drink, and the drinkers.
  3. It might look picturesque but having all those spices loosely floating around the pan can be tricky, so you can place them into a loose muslin bag that gives plenty of room for the wine to get stuck into the spices, and make the pouring all the easier.

Written by Matt Mugan