Mulled Wine

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

mulled wine, a hot blended drink made of wine, sugar, fruit, and spices, has been known since at least Roman times. Popular throughout Europe, most versions are made with dry red wine or rich fortified wines, such as port, or a mixture of the two. Sometimes spirits or liqueur is added.

The wine is sweetened with sugar (best first dissolved into a syrup) or honey (traditional in southeastern Europe), and seasoned with a variety of spices (whole rather than powdered), such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, mace, ginger, allspice, star anise, vanilla, cardamom, peppercorns, juniper berries, and fennel seeds. For maximum flavor the spices are best left to infuse overnight or are cooked in the sugar syrup and strained before serving. Other additions can include lemon or orange juice and peel, the inclusion of clove-studded oranges being typical of a similar drink called bishop. Chopped apple, raisins, and almonds can also be added and served with the wine. Depending on the combination of ingredients, the wine may be sweet, spicy, or fruity. Mulled wine with cinnamon and egg yolks was considered a hot and healthy drink until the early nineteenth century. See egg drinks.