An Expert’s Guide to Mulled Wine

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There’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit than with a glass of homemade mulled wine. Whether it’s the family tradition of having a glass whilst decorating your home, catching up with friends, or having a cup to hand while browsing the stalls at festive markets – mulled wine is an undoubtable Christmas classic.

This is your essential guide to all things mulled wine, including an easy recipe for making your own traditional mulled wine, tips for which wines are best to mull, serving and food pairing suggestions, and FAQs like how long mulled wine lasts.


Best Wines for Mulling

When choosing the perfect wine for mulling, a few key characteristics should be considered to ensure a delightful and aromatic drinking experience. Here are some top choices, readily available in the UK, for crafting your festive brew.


Medium-Bodied Red Wines

Choose wines that are known for their soft, fruit-forward profiles. Look for options with mild tannins and a smooth finish. These wines often have subtle spice notes that marry well with traditional mulling spices like cinnamon and cloves, enhancing the overall warmth and complexity of your mulled wine.


Fruity Red Wines

Opt for wines that bring warm, spicy berry flavours to the forefront. These wines are typically fruit-forward with a hint of natural sweetness, making them great for complementing the spices used in mulled wine. Their inherent warmth and robust profile help in creating a deeply flavoured, spiced beverage that’s perfect for cold evenings.


The Best Red Wines From Our Range

Pinot Noir 

With its delightful blend of blackcurrant, ripe fig, dark cherry, and subtle white pepper, this medium-bodied wine promises to enhance the warmth and complexity of your mulled wine. Its silky texture and award-winning pedigree, including a Gold at the Wine GB Awards 2019, make it a premium option for those seeking a rich and luxurious mulling experience.


Dark Harvest

Its enticing mix of red and black fruits, complemented by smoky undertones and a touch of sweetness, will enrich your mulled wine with a deep and inviting fruitiness. Resembling Cabernet Franc in style, Dark Harvest is versatile enough to harmonise beautifully with the robust flavours of traditional mulling spices.

How to Make Mulled Wine


  • 1 bottle of red wine (the best red wine to mull is something fruity, such as a merlot)
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon
  • 4 star anise
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 sliced orange
  • Brandy or spiced rum (optional)

The Bolney Method:


Serves: 4


  1. Prepare: Gather red wine, mulling spices (like cinnamon, cloves, star anise), orange slices, and a sweetener (sugar or honey).
  2. Combine: In a saucepan or slow cooker, mix the wine with the spices, orange slices, and sweetener. Optionally, add a splash of brandy or spiced rum.
  3. Simmer Gently: Heat the mixture on a low setting to avoid boiling. Simmer for about 20–30 minutes, allowing the spices to infuse the wine.
  4. Check Aroma: Your mulled wine is ready when it’s steaming and you can smell the rich spice aroma.
  5. Serve: Strain out the spices and fruit, then serve the mulled wine warm in heat-resistant glasses. Garnish with an orange slice or cinnamon stick if desired.
  6. Store if Needed: Cool any leftovers and store them in the fridge. Reheat gently for later enjoyment.

How to Serve Mulled Wine

Food Pairings

Mulled wine, with its rich and spiced profile, pairs wonderfully with a variety of festive foods. Here are some delightful combinations to enhance your holiday dining experience:

  • Cheese Platters: The warm spices of mulled wine complement the creamy and rich flavours of cheeses like Brie, Camembert, and aged Cheddar. A cheese board with these selections can create a perfect balance with the wine’s aromatic profile.
  • Roasted Nuts: Snack on roasted almonds, pecans, or walnuts alongside your mulled wine. The toasty and slightly salty flavours of the nuts pair nicely with the sweetly spiced notes.
  • Festive Sweets: Traditional Christmas treats like gingerbread, mince pies, or stollen are an excellent pairing. Their spices harmonise with the wine’s own blend of cinnamon, cloves, and star anise.
  • Savoury Snacks: Try a glass with some pigs in blankets, sausage rolls, or even a simple bruschetta. The wine’s spices can cut through the richness of these foods, creating a satisfying contrast.
  • Dark Chocolate: For a simple yet indulgent pairing, dark chocolate is a great choice. The bitterness of the chocolate complements the sweetness and spiciness of the drink.


Serving Your Freshly-Brewed Mulled Wine

To ensure the best experience when serving mulled wine, consider these tips:

  • Right Temperature: Serve mulled wine warm, but not too hot. Aim for a temperature that’s comfortable to sip, similar to a warm cup of tea.
  • Appropriate Glassware: Use heat-resistant glasses or mugs. Traditional glass wine goblets might crack with the heat, so opt for thicker, sturdier glasses or even festive mugs.
  • Garnishing: Enhance the presentation by adding a cinnamon stick or an orange slice as a garnish. This not only looks inviting but also adds a subtle aroma.
  • Portion Size: Serve in smaller quantities, as mulled wine is richer and more intense than regular wine.
  • Avoid Re-boiling: When reheating, avoid bringing mulled wine to a boil, as this preserves the flavours and alcohol content.

Shop Premium Christmas Wine Gifts

Enhance your festive celebrations with Bolney Wine Estate’s premium range of wine gifts. Perfect for mulling or as thoughtful gifts, our selection promises to add a touch of luxury to your holiday season. 


Explore our exquisite collection today and find the ideal wine to warm up your festive gatherings or to present as a cherished gift.


What is mulled wine?

Mulled wine is a warm, spiced beverage typically made with red wine infused with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, and often sweetened with sugar or honey. It’s commonly enjoyed during the winter months, especially around Christmas, and is known for its aromatic and comforting qualities.


What is the history of mulled wine?

Mulled wine traces its origins to Ancient Greece, where it was first made by infusing wine with herbs and spices for health benefits and enhanced flavour – a practice named ‘hippocras’ after Hippocrates. 


Gaining popularity through Europe, especially in colder regions for its warming qualities, mulled wine evolved over the centuries, with each area adding unique touches. By the Middle Ages, it had become a cherished winter beverage across Europe. 


Today, mulled wine remains a festive staple, integral to winter and Christmas celebrations, and renowned for its warm, spicy profile and enjoyed by millions annually.


Can you reheat mulled wine?

Yes, you can, and it best to do so gently over low heat on the stove, avoiding boiling to preserve the flavours and prevent the alcohol from evaporating too much. It’s also reheatable in a microwave, but again, care should be taken to avoid overheating.


What fruit goes into mulled wine?

Common fruits added to mulled wine include oranges, lemons, and apples. These fruits are often sliced or added as peel or zest to infuse the wine with additional fruity flavours that complement the spiced elements.


Is mulled wine vegan?

Mulled wine can be vegan, but it depends on the wine used as a base. Some wines undergo a fining process using animal-derived products. To ensure your mulled wine is vegan, start with a wine that is certified vegan.


What alcohol content does mulled wine have?

The alcohol content of mulled wine varies, typically ranging from 10% to 13%. This variation depends on the base wine, originally 12% to 14% alcohol, and the mulling process, which can reduce alcohol content slightly. Adding spirits or liqueurs may increase the alcohol percentage.


Does mulled wine go off?

Like any wine, mulled wine can go off, especially if it’s not stored properly. Once prepared, it should be consumed within a few days. Keeping it in a sealed, airtight container in the fridge can extend its shelf life a bit longer.


How long does mulled wine last?

Prepared mulled wine typically lasts for about 3 to 5 days if stored in a refrigerator in a tightly sealed container. It’s important to ensure it’s cooled to room temperature before storing to maintain its best quality.