I try not to use the word perfect too lightly, but mulled white wine truly is the perfect drink. It sounds a bit fancy and a bit complicated, but it’s really very easy to make with a short and simple ingredient list. It is a lightly spiced, warm white wine cocktail made by simmering wine with citrus, aromatic spices and a touch of sugar. It’s extremely popular in my part of Europe, to no one’s surprise. It is so good!
If there’s one thing that marks the arrival of Fall in the city, beyond the crisp mornings and fire-colored trees, it’s chestnuts. All the vendors on city corners standing over smoky barrels with chestnuts roasting. It’s an image ingrained in my brain. And just like that, you can easily recognize when early Fall starts to slip into late holiday-crazy Fall. Before Christmas lights start to twinkle in the dark, the corners and cafes get a familiar aroma – the smell of hot wine. It pierces through the cold air and it smells like joy to me.
Mulled wine is called kuhano vino in Slovenian. It’s everyone’s favorite cozy cocktail and most places have a selection of both wine and red mulled wine.
A maybe more familiar term would be Glühwein, which is German mulled wine. They are one and the same. They differ as much as individual recipes can, because no two people make mulled wine exactly the same. Some like it more spicy, others more sweet. I like a good, mellow, drinkable mix of the two. Let this recipe guide you in making your own white Gluhwein, but know you can make your own adjustments.
Choosing the right wine
I’ve always preferred white mulled wine. I love the fiery color and the taste more, but know that you can make mulled wine with red wine too, using this one recipe. It is a great opportunity to use an opened bottle of wine or a cheap(er) bottle of wine. Choose a wine that is still palatable, but don’t reach for expensive or archival wines when making mulled wine.
I like dry white wines, fruity and not too sweet. And I like to reach for local, Slovenian wines as we do have a lot of producers here. I usually go with a Pinot Grigio or a Chardonnay.
Mulled wine with rum
Adding rum is a popular trick in Slovenia to make a spiked mulled wine. You wait till your wine is cooked and then you stir in some dark rum for extra flavor. And with orange juice already mixed in, you’re basically making white wine punch.
You can also use brandy or cognac. If you want to play with the citrus notes, orange flavored liqueur like Grand Marnier is perfect too.
And if citrus isn’t your thing, consider making my apple mulled white wine. It’s still fruity but more mellow.
How to serve and store leftovers
I like to make a big pot of mulled wine and keep it warm on the stove if I plan to serve it right away or soon-ish. Glass mugs are my favorite because they look the best. As you serve mulled wine, serve it strained. Don’t add any soaked citrus slices or whole spices. You want fresh slices and spices for serving as those look the best. You could also serve wine without any add-ins.
Before storing leftover mulled wine, strain out the fruit slices and spices. Then keep it in a pitcher or a large Pyrex measuring cup. Anything that makes pouring new batches easy.
Reheat individual servings in the microwave (I like to keep it in for about 60 seconds, then do a taste test). For whole batches, pour the mulled wine into a large pot and heat it gently on the stove, set over low heat. You don’t want to burn the wine or have it wildly boil, all you need is for the wine to slowly warm to your desired temperature.
I like to think of mulled white wine like stovetop potpourri. Once I add the orange juice and slices, all the cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise, the whole kitchen smells like a warm gingerbread hug.
This is also such an easy wine drink that you can make for a movie night, a chill evening with friends or even a large party. The recipe can be doubled (or tripled or more) and you can serve the cooked wine in a large pot. Even make a whole mulled wine station (personally dreaming of this). Place a pot (a Dutch oven would look really cute) in the center of your table. Add mugs to the left of it. And whole dry spices and orange or lemon slices on the right. This way everyone can pour themselves a fresh mug with whatever add-ins they prefer.
More cozy and holiday inspired recipes
- Slovenian jam rolls (the softest bread rolls filled with jam)
- Easy roasted almonds with cinnamon (so crunchy and delicious)
- Apple hand pies with puff pastry (a quick and easy dessert that you can totally serve alongside mulled wine)
- Citrus pistachio spice cake (a moist, soft cake great for snacking)
- Cinnamon brioche bread with pumpkin (think of pillowy pumpkin brioche with swirls of cinnamon, I love it so much)
Mulled white wine
- 1 bottle (750 ml) white wine
- 1 cup (240 ml) water
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh orange juice
- 1/2 cup (110 g) white granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 organic orange, sliced
- 1 organic lemon, sliced
- 10 cloves
- 4 star anise, more to taste
- 4 cinnamon sticks, more to taste and for serving
- Combine wine, water, orange juice, sugar and honey in a medium (non reactive) pot. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved, then add the rest of the ingredients.
- Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook for about 20 minutes over low-medium heat. Taste and add more spices or sugar, then remove from the heat and serve right away.
- Pick any white wine you like, as long as it’s not too expensive.
- Adjust the amount of sugar to your needs, you may need less or more. This depends on both the wine you use and your personal taste. You can use brown sugar, more honey or even maple syrup.
- You can use a variety of citrus. Mandarin or clementine oranges are really great in this. If you want an apple twist, then try my apple mulled wine.
- Although this wine is best served fresh, you can store it in the refrigerator overnight. Strain the mixture first, then transfer to an airtight jar or jug. Reheat on the stove, over low heat, before serving.
- You can add brandy, rum or cognac to the wine right before serving, for an extra kick.
- Other popular spices you can use in the mix are vanilla, nutmeg and cardamom.