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Recipes: Red Wine Hot Chocolate? Trust Us, It Works

Recipes: Red Wine Hot Chocolate? Trust Us, It Works

When it’s cold outside and you want to feel cozy, nothing does the trick like a hot spiked beverage. But instead of forcing a decision between what are arguably the most popular winter options—creamy hot chocolate or spiced mulled wine—why not combine them? Case in point: red wine hot chocolate.

It may sound odd, but this crowd-pleaser has been making the rounds on social media for good reason. The hashtag has racked up 1.5 million views on Tiktok; one video posted last month by @nicoleleeanne6 currently has 52K likes and close to 800 comments. The user, a self-proclaimed weird snack expert, was skeptical of the combo at first. “I’m back to disrespecting my wines,” she says in the video. But after taking a sip proclaims, “10 out of 10 will make this again.”

Given the strange-sounding drink’s virality, we decided to whip up an elevated take worthy of a Wine Enthusiast-approved holiday gathering. From how to pick the right wine and chocolate to what makes the combo work so well, here is everything you need to know.

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Why It Works

Social media trends aside, this seasonally appropriate beverage is an ideal middle ground between mulled wine (which can be too boozy for some) and hot chocolate (which some find too rich). Plus, the bitter, tannic flavors in both wine and chocolate complement one together.

Our version relies on two types of chocolate—semisweet chocolate chips and cocoa powder—and amps up the sweetness with earthy, complex brown sugar. Whole milk lends a creamy mouthfeel and melds the flavors together.

How to Choose Your Wine and Chocolate

Start with a quality bottle of red wine—one you’d actually want to drink solo. For this libation, we gravitate toward fruit-forward bottlings with a bit of body, like New World Shiraz or Zinfandel. These offer a lifting contrast to the bitterness of the chocolate and the drink’s additional brown sugar. 

For the chocolate chips, you can go as dark or light as you want, but semisweet chocolate (typically around 50% to 65% cocoa solids) tends to strike the best balance between bitter and sweet. When it comes to cocoa powder, you can go with natural cocoa powder, or if you’d like an earthier, deeper chocolate flavor, Dutch-process cocoa powder. Whatever you do, though, don’t pick up a sweetened cocoa powder—it’ll make the final drink too saccharin.

Pro top: Pay attention to the ingredient list and select products with as few items listed as possible. This is the best indicator of a quality product. Skip the products with additives or stabilizers.

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Pick Your Milk

Whether you’re lactose-intolerant or not, you should consider playing around with different milks to test different flavors. Regular whole milk provides the richest texture and body, which is why we’ve selected it for our version.

But oat milk is a solid, neutral dairy-free pick. If you go this route, add an extra dash of sugar to make up for being slightly less rich than its dairy-based cousin. Alternatively, almond milk lends a layer of nutty flavor. For a rounder mouthfeel, try coconut milk, although you may want to dilute it with water in equal parts so it doesn’t overwhelm the drink’s other flavors. 

How to Make Red Wine Hot Chocolate

Makes 10 servings

  • 2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 5 cups whole milk (or whatever dairy-free alternative you prefer)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle red wine

Step 1

Combine the chocolate chips, cocoa powder, brown sugar, milk and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk occasionally for about 5 minutes, or until the sugar and cocoa powder are completely combined. (Do not skimp on this step or the hot chocolate will be grainy.)

Step 2

pouring wine into hot chocolate

Add the wine and cook for another minute or two until the mixture has come up to a very low simmer. You do not want it to boil.

Step 3

pouring red wine hot chocolate into a mug

Remove from the heat and serve hot.

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