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The best mulled wine

The best mulled wine

You can buy bottles of ready-spiced wine, but making it yourself is easy and rewarding – it also makes your home smell wonderful! With Martha Collison's recipe, you can control the spices you add – and the sweetness – to suit, resulting in a signature mulled wine that guests will thank you for.

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  • Serves6
  • CourseDrink
  • Prepare5 mins
  • Cook10 mins
  • Total time15 mins
  • PlusPreparation time 5 minutes + steeping

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  • 750ml bottle fruity red wine (see cook's tips)
  • 3 tbsp clear honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 2 oranges, scrubbed
  • 75ml brandy, Grand Marnier or Cointreau (optional)


  1. Pour the wine into a large saucepan or casserole dish with a lid. Add the honey, the whole spices and bay leaves, then stir well.

  2. Using a potato peeler, peel long strips of zest from 1 orange, avoiding the white pith if possible. Add to the wine, then squeeze in the juice of 1 orange (discarding any pips).

  3. Heat the wine over a low heat, stirring often, until steaming but not quite boiling. Keep it just below boiling for 10 minutes, then put the lid on and turn off the heat. Don’t allow it to boil, as this evaporates a lot of the alcohol.

  4. Allow the wine to steep for 30 minutes, for the spices to release their aromatic flavours. This is a good time to taste it. If you feel it needs extra sweetness, add a touch more honey.

  5. When ready to serve, gently warm the mixture and add the brandy (or other alcohol, if using). Slice the remaining orange into rounds, then cut each in ½ and add to the wine. Warm the wine gently, if needed, remove the whole spices and bay leaves, if liked (see my tip), then ladle it between heatproof glasses or cups. Make sure everyone gets a slice of orange and serve.

Cook’s tip

Using a slow cooker?

A slow cooker comes into its own for mulled wine if you want to get ahead. Put the wine, orange zest and juice, honey and spices into the slow cooker, then heat on low for 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes. Add the orange slices and brandy before serving.

Which wine?

Red wine is best for mulling, as the rich astringency from the tannins holds up well against intensely flavoured spices. Not all reds are created equally though, and while mulled wine is a good opportunity to turn cheaper wine into something drinkable, for the best results choose a mid-range, full-bodied red with fruity characteristics. Grenache or Merlot work especially well.

Having a party?

Mulled wine is the ideal Christmas party drink, as it makes your home smell marvellous and creates a warm welcome. Why not use a box of wine and make a triple portion? Waitrose Chilean Red Bag In Box has complex flavours that are ideal for mulling.

Fancy a change?

Mulled cider is a delicious, slightly less heavy take on mulled wine. Try swapping the red wine for 2 x 500ml bottles No.1 English Vintage Herefordshire Cider and add a few slices of apple to the pan just before serving in place of the orange. Apple juice is also lovely mulled if you’re looking for an alcohol-free version.

Love spices?

I like to see whole spices floating in my mulled wine, but some people prefer not to worry about them while drinking. Use a sieve to remove the spices, or place them into a muslin cloth and infuse through the wine this way instead, making them simple to remove when ready to serve.


Typical values per serving (without brandy) when made using specific products in recipe


533kJ/ 128kcals



Saturated Fat












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