Now this was a happy accident. I don’t know how I ended up with some red wine in a cup with honey in it, but it happened, and I’m so glad it did!
Once I discovered how lovely my red wine tasted with honey, I thought to make a mulled wine with it.
Add the honey, tame the spices
Mulled wines are typically very spicy affairs, with cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, orange slices, etc. All well and good.
The problem is that all of those spices together can detract from the honey, and it’s the honey taste that goes so well with the wine.
So in this simple mulled wine, we are dialing back the spices a bit. I’m using a cinnamon stick, a few peppercorns, and maybe a single star anise. The idea is to enhance the flavors of the wine and the honey, not compete with them.
Mulled wine ingredients
Start with a robust red wine, like a zinfandel or a pinot noir. Use a wine that you would enjoy drinking on its own. It doesn’t have to be expensive (it shouldn’t be), but it should have good flavor.
Add about 3/4 of a cup of honey, and 3/4 of a cup of water, for every 750 ml bottle of wine. This results in a nicely sweet mulled wine, so if you would like it less sweet, cut the honey back to half a cup.
For spices, add a 3-inch cinnamon stick as well as several whole black peppercorns. From this point you can improvise a bit. I like the taste of star anise, so I may add that to the mix.
Great spices for mulled wine are:
- Black peppercorns
- Whole allspice berries
- Whole cardamom pods
- Star Anise
- Strips of orange zest
People also like to add fruit like orange slices, cranberries, or apple slices. Feel free to add any spices or fruit that you want. Just taste as you go and know that the more you add, the more the mulled wine becomes about the spices and not the simple delicious flavors of honey and wine.
Mulled wine by the glass
If you are unsure about whether or not you’ll like this recipe, just try it with a half glass of wine first, not the whole bottle. Heat the wine with a little honey to see if you like the way those flavors work together.
Try these other warm winter drinks
- Hot Mulled Cider
- Chamomile Honey Hot Toddy
- Hot Chocolate
- Orange and Vanilla Hot Buttered Rum
- Brown Sugar Irish Coffee
Honey Mulled Wine Recipe
Make sure you use a wine that you like to drink! If it isn't good cold, it's not going to be any better hot.
- 1 (750ml) bottle of zinfandel, pinot noir, or other full-bodied robust red wine that you enjoy drinking
- 3/4 cup of water
- 3/4 cup of honey
- 15 whole black peppercorns
- 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick, plus extra (optional) for serving
- 1 star anise (or a couple cardamom pods or allspice berries)
- Thin peels of lemon zest for garnish
1 Combine the ingredients: Combine the wine, water, honey, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, and any other spices you are using in a 2-quart saucepan.
If you are unsure about the sweetness level, start with less honey and add more to taste.
2 Warm over medium-low heat until steamy and lightly simmering.
3 Serve: Strain into glass mugs. Serve with a thin strip of lemon zest and a bit of cinnamon stick.
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