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The Best Mulled Wine Recipe (and my secret to making it so amazing!)

Learn my super-simple secret to making the best mulled wine recipe ever! The important step is pretty easy to pull off, but it adds an incredible boost of flavour that really separates it from any other mulled wine recipe out there. Seriously - if you serve this to friends and family, absolutely everyone will be asking for your recipe!

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A fancy crystal wine glass filled with mulled wine

Before we get into the big secret, I need to let you know one little thing. This mulled wine needs to be left to sit for five days. Sure, you can drink it as soon as you make it (in which case it'll only take you 30 mins to make) but it's a million times better if you leave it for the full five days. This gives the rich flavours of red wine, cinnamon and citrus plenty of time to infuse and develop, resulting in what really is the best mulled wine recipe ever.

So now we've got that out of the way, I'd better spill the beans, right? Okay, here we go. My secret to making the best mulled wine is caramelisation. I caramelise the sugar with the spices before I add the wine to the pan. Simple, right?

Overhead shot of a saucepan filled with mulled wine ingredients

Caramelising the sugar not only adds a slight caramel flavour, but it also helps bring out the aromas of the spices. While we're talking about spices, I only use 2 - cinnamon and nutmeg. I've found that these are the 2 spices that people really love. My boyfriend Some people can be a bit funny about cloves and star anise. So if you want a delicious mulled wine recipe that everyone will love, this is it.

In the baking world, there's kinda a big debate on caramelisation. Do you stir the brown sugar? Or do you swirl it? If you watch The Great British Bake Off, you'll know this can seriously divide people! In this recipe at least, it doesn't matter. Do whichever you prefer. As long as you don't burn the sugar, you're good to go.

Angled shot of a glass of mulled wine next to a pinecone and Santa hat

A lot of the alcohol evaporates during the cooking process, so this mulled wine recipe isn't that strong. If you want something with a bit of a kick (for example, if you've got family round this Christmas!) you want my vodka-spiked mulled wine recipe. That stuff will put a smile on your face, no matter how family festive arguments you've had!

I always find that drinking Christmas drinks out of special glasses just makes everything feel a bit more magical, you know? So while you're treating family and friends to a couple of glasses of the best mulled wine recipe, why not treat yourself to a new set of fancy glasswear? Here are a couple of sets I love!

P.S. Are you a stirrer or a swirler? Let me know in the comments!

📖 Recipe

Closeup of a glass containing the best mulled wine recipe

The Best Mulled Wine Recipe

Learn my secret to making the best mulled wine recipe ever! The secret step is really simple, but it adds an incredible boost of flavour. Everyone will want to know how you made it!
Print Pin Rate
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: British
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 150kcal


  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 bottle (750ml) red wine at room temperature
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • ½ cup grapefruit juice
  • 1 orange sliced into rounds


  • Place the sugar, cinnamon stick and grated nutmeg into a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Watch over the pan until the sugar begins to melt (around 5 minutes). At this point, use a metal spoon to stir the sugar so it melts evenly.
  • When the sugar is fully melted, pour in the red wine. The sugar will harden, but this is fine. Continue stirring, scraping the spoon along the bottom of the pan to remove the hardened sugar. 
  • When all the sugar has separated from the bottom of the pan, add the orange juice, grapefruit juice and orange slices into the saucepan. Leave over a medium-low heat for a further 20 minutes to allow the flavours to become bolder and the sugar to dissolve.
  • Sieve the mulled wine into a jug (optional: add the orange slices back into the jug) and leave to cool to room temperature. When cooled, cover the jug's opening with some plastic wrap and leave to stand for 5 days before serving.


Calories: 150kcal

About Nicola

I’m Nicola, the face behind Happy Healthy Motivated – your go-to guide to becoming your best you!
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  1. Patty Beisel

    I have never made mulled wine. Your recipe sounds very good. What type of red wine do you suggest and do you refrigerate it for the 5 days or leave at room temperature?

    • Nicola

      Thanks so much, Patty! Apart from mulled wine and sangria, I don't drink red wine at all and I know nothing about it! But I can tell you that I use the cheapest of the cheap stuff (literally €0.99 a bottle!) and it tastes amazing. I also leave it to sit at room temperature for the 5 days. thanks so much for stopping by and I hope you love this mulled wine as much as we do.

  2. Brian

    Good questions Patty, I also had them.

    • Nicola

      Hi Brian, thanks so much for stopping by! I just answered Patty's questions are here are my answers: Apart from mulled wine and sangria, I don't drink red wine at all and I know nothing about it! But I can tell you that I use the cheapest of the cheap stuff (literally €0.99 a bottle!) and it tastes amazing. I also leave it to sit at room temperature for the 5 days.

  3. Kate

    How long will it last once it has set the 5 days? Can it be refrigerated and then a cup heated up as needed?

    • Nicola

      Hi Kate! If you cover the jug with plastic wrap, or pour the whole thing into a container with a lid, you can definitely keep the mulled wine in the fridge and warm up a cup in the microwave whenever you want one. You'll be able to store it like this for up to 2 weeks. (If it lasts that long!)

  4. Padma

    Do you suggest sweet red wine? Cuz mine is sweet and I'm sure it affects the amount of sugar.

    • Nicola

      Hey, Padma! I really think it depends how sweet you like your mulled wine. If you like sweet things, use a sweet mulled wine and add the full 1/4 cup sugar. If you're not a fan of sweet drinks, reduce the sugar down to 2 tablespoons if you're using a sweet red wine. You can always taste the wine when it's simmering and add a little more if you think it needs it 🙂

  5. Allyson

    Can you do this and not let it sit for 5 days?

    • Nicola

      Hi Allyson,
      You can do - the flavour just won't develop as well.

  6. Connie

    5?star amazing flavor after 5 days. I used cab sav Bota box wine. It is a keeper. Good at room temp. Will have a glass warm next.