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Best Mulled Wines | Wine Enthusiast

Best Mulled Wines | Wine Enthusiast

From the first bit of chill in the evening air, those of us who love the cozy season pull out all the stops to make home a bit more hygge.

For wine lovers, that means donning your favorite fuzzy sweater, throwing a log on the fireplace (or plugging in your faux version) and settling in with a nice warm mug of cinnamon-scented mulled wine. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

The History of Mulled Wine

Mulled wine is an ancient beverage. An archeological dig into the tomb of early Egyptian pharaoh Scorpion I revealed he was buried with 4,500 liters of spiced wine seasoned with tree resin, figs, grapes, coriander, sage and mint. The ancient Greeks and Romans also dug mulled wine, spiking theirs with citrus fruits and spices, and may have even considered it a type of medicine.

After all, the ancient Greek mulled wine with honey and pepper was called Ypocras or Hippocras, an homage to Hippocrates, the father of medicine.

The British took to mulled wine in a big way, embracing the social aspect of sharing warm, sweet wine with friends and neighbors. Their go-to was wassail, a drink that takes its name from the Anglo Saxon toast waes hael,” which means “be in good health” or “be well.”

In areas with orchards, farmers and townsfolk would head outside with wine seasoned with spice and honey and bless the trees to ensure a good harvest. In other parts of the U.K., Christmas carolers would be rewarded with cups of mulled wine. Eventually caroling became to be known as wassailing.

Today, nearly every culture around the globe enjoys some form of warm wine simmered with spices, sugar and fruit. Whether you call it gløgg, gluhwein, wassail or mulled wine, there’s something quite satisfying about the feeling that comes from sipping fragrant hot vino with friends.

How to Make Mulled Wine

While red mulled wine is very traditional, there’s no reason you can’t make a delicious, spiced wine with white wine and even rosé. Making it is easy. We gathered some of our favorite bottles for mulled wine, and even recipes, like this classic version,  a German take on it, a tangy citrus one and even one from Norway for your cold weather entertaining pleasure.

90 Points Wine Enthusiast

This warm, generous and rounded wine has a relaxed, broad texture embracing mulled plums, cherries and subtle vanilla and cinnamon notes. Full in body and light in tannins, it’s easy to drink. #28 Top 100 Best Buy 2022. —Jim Gordon


91 Points Wine Enthusiast

Aromas of cherry, flint and hillside brush prepare the palate for flavors of pomegranate, raspberry, leather and licorice. It is juicy on the palate despite chewy tannins that dwindle to reveal notes of baking spice and orange zest on the finish. —Mike DeSimone


90 Points Wine Enthusiast

This well-crafted red offers ripe strawberry and raspberry aromas intertwined with herbs and spices. It’s medium-bodied with a balanced acidity and smooth tannins. Earthy, ripe red fruit flavors and a touch of baking spices makes this lively Malbec very enjoyable. —Jesica Vargas


91 Points Wine Enthusiast

Not only is there a compelling story of sustainability wrapped up in this canned brand, but this red wine is solid and satisfying. Aromas of hearty blackberry juice, turned loam and dusty herb show on the nose. The palate adds a bit of baking spice to those fruit and earth components. Editors’ Choice. —Matt Kettmann


90 Points Wine Enthusiast

Baked and fresh strawberry aromas are spiced up by pepper on the easygoing nose of this affordable bottling. Tight tannins frame the sip, where rich blackberry and red berry flavors meet with baked pastry flavors. Best Buy. —M.K.


90 Points

This tawny-Port-style wine made from Portuguese grape varieties is packed with rich mulled cherries, chocolate and almond-liqueur flavors on a full, fortified body backed by moderate tannins. Its long finish echoes sweetness and nutty maturity. —J.G.



87 Points Wine Enthusiast

This Langhorne Creek Shiraz starts off with pleasant aromas of fresh red cherry and plum underpinned by mulling-spice nuances. The palate doesn’t quite follow through on the nose’s promise, however. Acidity is angular and it never quite finds its footing, lacking length and harmony. Still, there’s an appealing freshness to the red fruit and spice amidst the powerful, sandpaper tannins. —Christina Pickard


93 Points Wine Enthusiast

This classic, full-bodied California Zin shows intriguing nuances of wild sage, bay leaf and dried meat backed by luscious blackberry and mulled plum flavors and supported by moderate tannins that keep it mouthwatering. —J.G.


90 Points Wine Enthusiast

Herbal aromas of tobacco and thyme ride over plump black cherry and blackberry in this cohesive red. It’s polished in texture on the medium-bodied palate, with supple tannins and bright acidity framing the flavor of black cherry laced with slightly toasty baking spices. —Alexander Peartree


91 Points Wine Enthusiast

Dark-chocolate cordial cherry, blackberry, and cinnamon shape the nose of this Carmenère sourced from old vineyards located in the Apalta region of Colchagua Valley. This is a full-bodied, balanced wine with chewy tannins. Sweet black fruit, baking spices and earthy flavors on the palate. The finish is flavorful with dark chocolate notes. —J.V.



What Are the Best Wines for Mulled Wine?

The best wines for mulled wine are on the lighter side, fruity and dry. The reason? Wines with a lot of oak aging or tannins will turn bitter once heated.  Beyond these attributes, you can make your mulled wine with any style of wine you prefer, including white wines like Pinot Grigio or Verdejo, juicy rosés like Grenache, or reds like Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Merlot. It’s a great way to use up good leftover wine that sat in the back of the refrigerator for a few days too long.

As a bonus, many of the bottles can be affordable, so you won’t blow your entertaining budget on one drink.

Since you’re mixing your wine with spices and fruit, you wouldn’t want to use an expensive red wine with heavy tannins. Besides being a waste of the investment, the tannins and oaky flavors in a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon will be magnified when heated, yielding a bitter mulled wine.

The best red wines for mulled wines taste bright and fresh, such as Grenache, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, fruit-forward Pinot Noir. Inexpensive Bordeaux is another great choice for mulled wine; in fact, claret was a traditional choice for British mulled wine in William Shakespeare’s day.

What Spices Should I Use for the Best Mulled Wine?

Most of the spices you need for your mulled wine recipe are probably already in your kitchen. Javier Hernandez, senior spice associate with Oaktown Spice Shop in Oakland, California says that their classic mulling spice mix contains cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cardamom and clove.

“Cinnamon and allspice provide warming notes, and then you get the ginger, which provides a little bit of heat; cardamom provides a nice camphor note and you get beautiful notes from cloves to round everything out,” Hernandez explains. This blend works equally well with red, rosé and white wines.

While you may have most of these spices on hand, if you can’t remember when you bought them, it might be a good idea to replace them before making a batch of mulled wine. Spices lose their potency in a year or so.

Can You Make White Mulled Wine? 

White wines are lovely choices for mulled wine. Because of their natural transparency, white wines will showcase the spices and fruits you add, even more so than some red wines. Stay away from an oaky, buttery Chardonnay, however, as those flavors won’t deal well with heat. Instead, choose an affordable fresh, crisp and fruity white wine, such as Chenin Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, or a Rhône white blend with Roussanne, Marsanne, and Viognier.

What Are the Best Glasses for Mulled Wine?

If you’re ladling out your mulled wine piping hot from the stove, then you’ll want to serve it in heat-resistant drinkware like a footed glass mug, a porcelain teacup or ceramic coffee mug. If you have a punch bowl, this would be a fine time to pull it out, along with the punch cups that came with it. The small cups encourage sipping. And coppery metal mugs, such as the kind used for Moscow Mules can work too, as long as the wine isn’t too hot to handle.

Why You Should Trust Us

All products featured here are independently selected by our team, which is comprised of experienced writers and wine tasters and overseen by editorial professionals at Wine Enthusiast headquarters. All ratings and reviews are performed blind in a controlled setting and reflect the parameters of our 100-point scale. Wine Enthusiast does not accept payment to conduct any product review, though we may earn a commission on purchases made through links on this site. Prices were accurate at the time of publication.

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