DIY

I Made DIY Mulled Wine, And Now I’m Really Excited For Cold Weather

by Kim Wong-Shing

There’s nothing better than unwinding with a nice glass of wine. Except, perhaps, when that wine is spiked with liqueur, spiced with cinnamon, and heated up to warm your belly. I’m talking about mulled wine, also known as the best part of fall and winter.

If you’ve ever tasted mulled wine, then you already know the magic I speak of. But if you haven’t, let me paint a picture for you.

Mulled wine is the sangria of cold weather. Instead of steeping wine in fruits, you steep the wine in spices like cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. Instead of sweetening it with juice, you sweeten it with maple syrup or honey. And, of course, instead of drinking it over ice, you drink it hot from a mug.

The cinnamon-y goodness warms your hands and your throat, and all your troubles melt away. Seriously.

Mulled wine is one of those drinks that looks really fancy but is deceptively easy to make. You can use inexpensive wine, and it requires ingredients that you likely have lying around your kitchen anyway.

And like any good punch, you can make it in a big batch and impress all the guests at your next Halloween or New Year’s party. Or drink it all yourself over the course of a week. Or less. Who’s here to judge?

I first discovered mulled wine about two years ago when I still lived in the sometimes bitterly cold city known as New York. Now I live in the South, where we get about one month of cold weather per year at the most —  but do you think that’s going to stop me from enjoying the best cold-weather drink that there is?! Absolutely not. I will sit in my air conditioning and drink my mulled wine in peace, thank you very much.

I have made some bad batches of mulled wine in the past. I have also made some great batches. Here, I offer you a recipe that has not steered me wrong yet.

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All you need to make mulled wine is a bottle of red wine, an orange, spices, sweetener, and some extra booze.

Gather Ingredients

Gather Ingredients
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OK, first things first: the wine. Red wine, specifically. Some red wines are better for mulling than others.

Red wines that are high in alcohol, fruity, and high in tannins are ideal for mulled wine, according to sommelier Jared Weinstock. You also want a wine that’s sturdy enough to withstand the heat and spice.

Some good red wines to use are merlot, California zinfandel, or grenache. Other recipes call for cabernet sauvignon, syrah, or malbec. Red blends also work excellently for this! But avoid delicately flavored red wines, like pinot noir, since the taste will be overwhelmed by the spices anyway.

Now what about quality and price? You can go ahead and get that cheap bottle that comes in a giant size, or even a cheap box of wine, to use for this. Using a fancy, expensive bottle of wine for mulled wine is unnecessary and wasteful. Does it taste OK? Is it unspoiled? Then it’ll work.

I bought a bottle of merlot from Yellow Tail, then gathered the rest of my ingredients.

For one bottle of wine, using the recipe adapted from Gimme Some Oven, you’ll need the following:

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One orange, sliced.

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Cinnamon sticks! Two of them.

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Eight whole cloves.

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Two star anise.

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And a sliced piece of ginger root — I eyeballed it.

That’s the last spice I used, though if you’d like, you can add others like nutmeg, vanilla, allspice, or any fall spices that you love! It’s your world, baby, and this mulled wine is just livin’ in it. Keep in mind that it’s best to use whole spices, rather than ground, for the sake of texture and ease of drinking.

Also, since I bought a huge bottle of wine so I’d have leftovers, I doubled each of the spices.

OK, just a couple more ingredients now.

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Two tablespoons of sweetener — you can use brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, or whatever sweetener you like; add up to a couple more tablespoons if you like it sweeter.

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And lastly, 1/4 cup of extra booze — you can use brandy, ruby port, or your favorite liqueur. Some recipes even call for whiskey! Whichever alcohol you prefer is fine, and you can even leave it out entirely if you’d like.

I used triple sec, an orange-flavored liqueur, because I had some in my liquor cabinet already and it accented the orange slices.

Combine Ingredients in a Pot

Combine Ingredients in a Pot
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OK, now to make some magic.

Combine your ingredients in a saucepan or in a slow cooker.

If you use a saucepan, bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce to medium-low, cover, and let it simmer for 15 minutes to 3 hours.

However, do not let the wine come to a boil. You will boil off the alcohol. Don’t do this.

If you use a slow cooker, you can lazily ignore it while you go about the rest of your day without worrying about overheating it. That’s what I did!

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Next, you just wait and wait. The longer you let it simmer, of course, the more spice-infused it’ll be. Also, the more your house will smell like freaking Ina Garten’s house in the winter. Mmm.

Serve and Enjoy

Serve and Enjoy
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You’ll know that the mulled wine is ready when you taste it and involuntarily smile and rub your belly.

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I took my first taste after about an hour, and it was already delicious. But just to develop the flavors even more, I left it on the “Low” setting for a few extra hours.

Traditionally, mulled wine is served warm in a glass, along with garnishes like orange slices, cinnamon sticks, or extra star anise. However, there is no wrong way to drink mulled wine!

Drink It All Way Too Fast

Drink It All Way Too Fast
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If you’re anything like me, you’ll accidentally have one too many glasses of the stuff because it just tastes so darn good. Store the rest in the fridge if you have any left.

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And never feel chilly again.