Mulled Wine: A History

The divine creation of mulled wine is a prime example of the phrase ‘waste not, want not’. For even the most ancient of civilizations knew that wine was too good a drink to squander. And, for those who prefer a little booze in their winter beverage, historical wine makers certainly had you in mind when they vinified this delightful drink. 

But, of course, there is more to this wine-making story than connoisseurs wanting to please the likes of, well, us. And, although the history of mulled wine is pretty much another ‘the Romans copied the Greeks copied the Romans’ – extravaganza, the tale is still worth telling. Read below and find out more about history of mulled wine, why it makes grandad a little more jolly at Christmas dinner, and how you can make your own this holiday season.

History of Mulled Wine: glass being poured with red wine

History of Mulled Wine: What is it and Where Does it Come From? 

In its simplest form, mulled wine is a sweetened and heated red wine infused with spices,and often, hints of citrus. History, which is not always accurate, raises a debate as to whether its origins lie with the Ancient Greeks, or the Romans. And, while the majority of people believe the latter, this tale should be told without bias. 

Many date the origins of mulled wine back to ancient Greece, where they would use spiced wine as a medicinal tonic to bring warmth to the body. Grecians would name this drink ‘elixir hippocras’ after Hippocrates of Kos – a physician known as the ‘father of medicine’. There is another theory that the wine that didn’t make it to the banquet was mixed with spice and heated to prevent waste. 

The main reason why Romans get all the credit for inventing mulled wine is because they were the first to write down an official recipe. The first record of mulled wine was called ‘conditum paradoxum’, which roughly translates to ‘surprise spiced wine’. The drink was described in the Apicius’ De re coquinaria (one of the oldest Roman cookbooks) as a combination of wine, honey, pepper, laurel, saffron, and dates. Which was usually offered to guests at the end of a meal as a digestive. 

Mulled Around the World: Mulled Wine From Different Countries 

Naturally, mulled wine spread across Europe, with each country making it into their own. It is now a drink with many names, flavors, and uses. Learn more about these spiced wine specialities below: 

Glögg (prounounced Gloog) in Sweden: 

As mulled wine made its way to Sweden, and other Nordic countries, it became the go-to holiday drink. Today, Glögg can be found at every turn during the Christmas season, and for good reason. Unlike its predecessor, Glögg is not just a spice-infused wine, but a combination of red wine, port, brandy, and sometimes, vodka. Initially named ‘glödgag vin’, meaning ‘glowing-hot wine’, it was shortened to glögg and now enjoyed by the Swedish during the Christmas holidays or whenever the weather gets chilly. 

Glühwein in Germany: 

Glühwein is another holiday favorite that dates back all the way to 1420. Today, Germans gather at Christmas markets each year to indulge in cups of their country’s century-old concoction. An infusion of red wine, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and orange that they like to call ‘glowing wine’. Roman influence aside, this drink can also be traced back to a German nobleman, Count John IV of Katzenelnbogen, who was believed to be the first grower of riesling grapes in the 15th century. 

Vin Brulè in Italy:

Contrary to popular belief, Italy doesn’t experience sunny weather all-year-round. When the weather is a bit on the chilly side, Italians turn to a drink called Vin Brulè. The main difference between mulled wine and it’s Italian cousin, is the preparation. Vin Brulè is often boiled until no alcohol remains and a shot of brandy or cherry is added at the end for an extra bite. 

Vin chaud in France:

When it’s winter in Paris, there’s a reason why locals aren’t huffing and puffing as they sit along the cafe terraces. It’s all thanks to a drink called Vin chaud. Instead of a dry red wine, a young and fruity wine is infused with sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and orange peels to create the perfect fireside beverage. Vin chaud is also a popular holiday drink and often served for Christmas festivities.  

History of Mulled Wine: various glasses

4 Ways to Use Mulled Wine in Your Dishes: 

Just like regular wine can add extra flavor to your food, mulled wine is sure to make your everyday dishes taste like something special. Let’s honor it’s origin by making it go a long way, shall we? Here are a few ways you can cook with leftover mulled wine: 

Use it for Stock: 

Making beef or chicken casserole tonight? Mulled wine will really get the juices flowing and leave your meat tasty and tender. 

Create a Glaze: 

Add spectacular flavor to your next fruit tart. Simply let the fruit soak in your mulled wine before adding it on top. 

Make a Syrup: 

Give your cheesecake a makeover with a mulled wine syrup. Simply combine your mulled wine with icing sugar until it becomes a thick syrup-like paste. 

Add it to Your Christmas Cake:

If you’re going to add wine to your Christmas pudding, mulled wine is the number one choice. Let your fruit soak in it before you add them to your cake mix. 

Make Marinade: 

Add a spicy-sweet flavor to the main course when you marinade your meat with mulled wine. Leave your meat to soak in it overnight or simply cook your meat with a dash of mulled wine on low heat. 

Easy Mulled Wine Recipe 

Now that you’ve learned all about mulled wine, it’s time to make and taste! But, as the saying goes, you have to walk before you run (after a few glasses of this recipe, you’ll most probably be crawling, but hey). Read below, if you dare, for our quick and easy mulled wine recipe: 


  • 2 bottles of inexpensive red wine 
  • 2 shots of port 
  • 5 orange segments that have been stuffed with cloves
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp of nutmeg
  • 2-4 tablespoons of brown sugar  


  1. Heat all ingredients together in a pan over low heat for 20 mins. Do not bring the mixture to a boil as this removes the alcohol (and we don’t want that). 
  2. Once hot, strain the mixture to remove the bits and pieces. 
  3. Pour into a jug or a wine server. 
  4. Let it sit for 2-5 mins before serving.
  5. Enjoy your mulled wine! 

Whether you side with the Romans or the Greeks is no matter. We hope this article has taught you something new and made you keen to sip on some spiced wine! 

You’ve learned a ton about history of Mulled Wine, now what? 

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