Mulled Wine

Celebrate the holiday season with this mulled wine recipe! Packed with notes of citrus, apple, and warming spices, it's cozy, festive, and delicious.

Mulled wine

Jack and I may not always get around to putting up the Christmas tree, but we do love to celebrate the holiday season by making this mulled wine recipe. Packed with notes of citrus, apple, and warming spices, it’s cozy and festive – the perfect defense against Chicago’s winter weather. Colorful garnishes like orange slices, cranberries, and fresh rosemary make it even more cheery. With a mug of it in hand, I forget that it’s cold outside in an instant!

If you’ve never made mulled wine before, you’re in for a treat. It’s not only a) delicious and b) super simple to make, but it also makes your kitchen smell amazing. The heady, spiced aroma on its own is reason enough to make it!

I originally developed this mulled wine recipe a few years back, with holiday entertaining in mind. If you – like us – aren’t serving a crowd this year, feel free to scale it down. Jack and I usually make a half recipe. Technically, that amount should serve 3, but the hot wine is so warming and flavorful that we always go back for seconds.

Mulled wine recipe ingredients

Mulled Wine Recipe Ingredients

Ready to make mulled wine? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Wine, of course! – Look for a dry red wine such as merlot. No need to break the bank here – because you’ll be adding so much to the wine, an inexpensive, but still decent, bottle will work just fine.
  • Fresh oranges – I simmer the wine with the zest and juice of 1/2 orange, and I always serve it with orange slices for garnish.
  • Apple cider – Instead of adding sugar to this recipe, I sweeten it naturally with apple cider. I love the way its sweet and tangy flavor plays off the spices, wine, and orange juice.
  • Mulling spices – Cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and star anise infuse the mulled wine with rich, warm flavor.
  • Ginger juice – I list it as optional (the recipe is still great without it!), but add it if you can. It gives the mulled wine a delicious spicy kick.
  • Festive garnishes – No, you don’t have to garnish your glass with fresh rosemary and cranberries, but I hope you do. 🙂 They make this mulled wine extra festive and pretty.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Red wine in pot with orange peel, cloves, cinnamon, and star anise

How to Make Mulled Wine

Mulled wine is SO darn easy to make! Here’s what you need to do:

First, prepare the orange. Use a vegetable peeler to slice 3-4 strips of zest off half of the orange. Slice the other half into rounds, and reserve them for garnish.

Then, simmer. Combine the wine, apple cider, orange peel, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, and juice from the zested orange half in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a low simmer (careful not to let it boil!). Reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 more minutes.

Finally, taste and adjust. Don’t skip this step! The secret to making the best mulled wine is adjusting the flavor to your liking. Add the ginger juice, if using, and taste. If you want your wine sweeter, add more apple cider. If you want it more spiced, add extra cinnamon, cloves, and/or star anise and let it simmer on the stove for another 15 minutes. Once you love the flavor, remove the spiced wine from the heat. Strain it to remove the spices, orange peel, and any separated apple cider solids. Pour into mugs, and enjoy!

Cheers, friends!

Mulled wine recipe

More Favorite Holiday Recipes

Feeling festive? Celebrate the season with one of these holiday recipes next:

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Mulled Wine

rate this recipe:
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Serves 6
Celebrate the holiday season with this mulled wine recipe! Packed with notes of citrus, apple, and warming spices, it's cozy and festive.


  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle dry red wine, such as merlot
  • 2 cups apple cider, more as desired
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 8 whole star anise
  • 6 whole cinnamon sticks, plus more for serving
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ginger juice, to taste (optional)
  • Rosemary sprigs, for garnish
  • Cranberries, for garnish, optional


  • Use a vegetable peeler to peel 3-4 strips of zest off half of the orange. Slice the remaining half into thin rounds and set aside for garnish.
  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the red wine, apple cider, and the juice from the zested ½ orange. Add the orange zest, cloves, star anise, and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and simmer on low for 20 to 30 minutes. Be careful not to let it come to a boil.
  • Stir in the ginger juice, if using. Taste, and if you like your mulled wine sweeter, add more apple cider. If you like it more spiced, add more whole spices and simmer for 15 more minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, strain, and pour into a pitcher or mugs. Serve with the reserved orange rounds and cinnamon sticks. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and cranberries, if desired.


5 from 10 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Jim

    The print is not dark enough hard to see

  2. Pauline

    It sounds delish. How can I make this non alcoholic

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Pauline, I’m not sure since wine is the main ingredient in this one. Without trying, I’m not sure how it’ll go with non-alcohol wine.

    • Eric

      5 stars

      They do sell non-alcoholic wines, grape juice might be suitable as an alternative (seeing as all wine really is, is fermented grape juice), but because grape juice will tend to be sweeter I would be more cautious about adding the apple cider; try adding it sparingly at first.

  3. Evelyn

    I want to understand the ginger juice. Is that a product that can be purchased or does one somehow grate and strain fresh ginger?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Evelyn, this is the ginger juice I use, I find it at whole foods in the asian aisle next to the pickled ginger (you can skip it in the recipe if you can’t find it):

  4. zee from

    5 stars
    nice one keep posting

  5. Mary

    Hello, may I ask about ginger juice? Is this a purchased item or is it the juice that one squeezes from finely grated ginger?
    Thank you for the recipe, looking forward to trying it.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Mary, I buy it – the brand I like is The Ginger People, I find it in the asian aisle at the grocery store or I get it on amazon. Although I’m sure some freshly grated ginger simmered in the pot with the other spices would be delicious too.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.