Homemade mulled wine is so simple to make. The recipe basically amounts to toss a bunch of things in a stock pot, simmer, and enjoy. You’re cutting the alcohol with cranberry juice and apple juice or cider. So it won’t get you silly as quick as drinking plain old wine. Plus there is just something so cozy about a warm drink on a cold night. The mere act of holding a warm mug of whatever and sipping on it is inherently comforting.
I’ve been tinkering with this mulled wine recipe for years. It makes a large batch, which makes it best for sharing with friends. I love making mulled wine whenever we’re going to be having guests over. It has the lovely added benefit of making the entire house smell delicious. (It does a great job of clearing away any cleaning product smells left after that last minute bout of Tidy All The Things Because We Are Having People Over).
I’m not much on presentation, once the mulled wine is ready I just leave it on the stovetop simmering on low until either the party’s over or the pot starts to empty out. If you want to keep it warm away from the stove a crock pot works well. For something a little fancier, you could transfer it to a punch bowl, but it cools quickly and tastes best warm.
I serve my mulled wine in these wee vintage punch cups. I find the small serving size helps to keep the drink warm, plus I just like an excuse to break out all that pretty vintage glass. However, cozy coffee mug with a stick of cinnamon also totally works.
Homemade Mulled Wine Recipe
Prep time: 20 min (mostly spent studding the orange with cloves)
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 20 min
Yields: One big stock pot full of mulled wine, which is usually plenty to share with friends over the course of the night.
You will need:
about 30 whole cloves
2 whole nutmeg
1 cheap seeded orange
3 seedless oranges
6 cinnamon sticks
1 big (1.5L) bottle of cheap red wine
1 wee (375ml) bottle of brandy
1/2 a jug of cranberry juice (juice, not cocktail)
2L jug of unsweetened apple juice or apple cider
honey to taste
Pour in the entire 2L jug of unsweetened apple juice, and about half a jug of 100% cranberry juice into a large stock pot. Add the juice from one orange (cut one of the seedless oranges in half and squeeze it into the pot). Add whole nutmeg and cinnamon sticks. If you like you things on the sweet side you can also add honey to taste (I usually add about a tablespoon of honey).
For the cloves you have a few options. The first option is to put the whole cloves in on their own. If you’re picky about tiny floaty bits ending up in your drink, you can place the cloves into a tea strainer, or tie them up in a small piece of cheesecloth. If the occasional stray clove piece doesn’t phase you, you can just add the cloves loose to the pot. Either way you want to put in about 15 whole cloves.
The other option is to stud an orange with cloves and float this in the pot. It takes a few extra minutes, but it looks pretty. If you have the extra time this is my favourite way to go. You will need a handful of whole cloves (30 of more). I recommend using an orange with a good thick skin. You’re not going to be eating it, so it doesn’t matter if it’s seedless, you can just buy whatever is cheapest at the store. Take a clove, poke the pointed end into the orange and press firmly down. Repeat, until you have an orange studded with cloves. (If the skin is particularly thick you may need to use the tip of a sharp knife to cut a little “x” into the orange peel, and then press the clove down into the x).
Now that you’ve added your whole cloves (or clove studded orange), bring the pot to a boil. Once it’s boiling lower the heat to minimum. Wait for the boiling to cease, then add your wine and brandy. Be careful not to let it come to a boil once you’ve added the booze, or you’ll boil off the alcohol content.
When choosing a wine to mull I suggest getting something cheap with a low sugar rating. You’re going to be doctoring it, so no use wasting good wine!
Peel and segment the remaining two seedless oranges and add the orange sections to the pot. (Be sure to wait to add these until the liquid is done boiling, or else they can start to come apart and add loose pulpy bits to your drink). Simmer on low for 40 minutes.
If you find this is too boozy tasting you can use less brandy (buy the bottle that is one size down from 375ml) for a less boozy, more wine like, taste.