Plus, get some tips on how to make holiday entertaining less stressful so you can enjoy spending time with your friends and loved ones.
Why we love this recipe for spiced mulled wine
- It's easy to put together and only requires a few ingredients.
- Mulled wine is warm and cozy during the cool weather months.
- It's versatile - make it on the stovetop, in a slow cooker, or Instant Pot.
- Spiced mulled wine can hang out in your chosen vessel, warm, for hours, so people can help themselves whenever they need a refill - perfect for low-stress entertaining!
- It's festive! Mulled wine is always a hit at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other fall and winter holiday gatherings.
The holiday entertaining season is upon us, and for many people, that means that hosting duties are ramping up.
I'm a big fan of finding ways to make entertaining less stressful. There's nothing quite like the frantic feeling of wondering if you're forgetting something when your guests are about to arrive.
So let's get in the spirit (see what I did there?) with some fun, festive additions to your holiday food and beverage repertoire.
Having a warm cocktail at the ready when your guests arrive is a great way to welcome them to your home.
They'll be sipping and chatting while you can attend to any last-minute details.
There are lots of ways to set yourself up for success when it comes to entertaining. Read on for a few of my favorite tips!
💡 Tips for Making Holiday Entertaining Less Stressful
Hosting duties can be overwhelming.
Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your prep time so you're able to sit back and enjoy your company.
- Choose recipes you've made successfully in the past. Trying out a new recipe for a dinner party adds the fear of the unknown into the mix.
A recipe you've tried and enjoyed is less likely to throw you for a loop or turn out poorly.
- Prep food in advance! Wherever you're able to, get portions of your recipes done a day (or more!) ahead of your party.
Things like prechopping ingredients, making appetizers, and even fully making recipes that hold well in the fridge (or even taste better reheated!) will make life much less hectic on the day of your party.
- Don't be afraid to accept help! If someone offers to bring something, take them up on it! Tell them what you'd like them to bring (fresh fruit, bread, a bottle of wine, dessert) and let them help you out.
They'll feel like they're contributing to the experience, and you have one thing taken off of your plate.
Buy something pre-made from the grocery store or a local restaurant to fill out your meal. There's no law that says you MUST make everything from scratch.
Focus your efforts on the things you truly want to make and buy things to help round out the meal.
- Set your table ahead of time. You don't need to wait until the food is done in order to have your table ready. You can even do it the night before if you want!
- Let your appliances do the work for you. Utilize a slow cooker, Instant Pot, or the warming feature of your oven/stovetop to help keep things warm.
- Batch your beverages! Individual cocktails are wonderful, but making them one-by-one can be very time consuming.
Making larger batches of cocktails (or mocktails!) ensures that there's plenty for everyone and that people can get refills whenever they're ready for them.
- Embrace the imperfect. Things may go wrong. That's just life! People aren't going to be upset with you if everything doesn't go exactly to plan.
What will really stick with them is how you handled any curveballs that got thrown your way during your gathering.
How to make this recipe
- Pour a bottle of full-bodied red wine, such as Merlot, Shiraz, or Garnacha (also called Grenache) into your cooking vessel of choice (saucepan, slow cooker, or Instant Pot).
- Add brandy, maple syrup, orange bitters, whole spices, and orange zest.
- Slowly bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-25 minutes.
- Ladle into mugs or heat-safe glasses and enjoy!
📝 Pro Tip: How to keep your mulled wine warm
One of the great things about serving mulled wine is that it can hang out on the back burner (literally, if you so choose!) while you enjoy your guests.
There are several ways that you can keep your mulled wine warm.
- If using the stovetop, after your mulled wine is ready, move it over to a warming burner (if you have one), or keep it on low heat, stirring occasionally.
- For using a slow cooker, I recommend simmering it first on the stovetop, then transferring it into your slow cooker. You can leave it on low heat or the warm setting if your model has that option.
Alternatively, you can place everything in your slow cooker and cook on low heat until warmed through, which will take about an hour, depending on your model. This takes longer but keeps you from dirtying an extra pot.
- With an Instant Pot (which is my preferred method for making this mulled wine), use the sauté setting on low (or less) to do the initial simmering. Once it's warm, switch it to the "keep warm" setting.
After your mulled wine has simmered, it can hang out on your "warm" setting of choice for hours! It's perfect for parties.
And as a bonus, if you're using an Instant Pot (or slow cooker with a locking lid), you can easily transport your spiced mulled wine.
I hosted a big cheeseboard demo party several years ago, made the mulled wine at home, and brought it to the event venue in my Instant Pot.
The whole room smelled so lovely from the wine and spices and it was a huge hit with the crowd!
When serving mulled wine, opt for mugs or heat-safe glasses.
Not all glasses should hold hot beverages, so be sure to check this before you serve your warm mulled wine.
What kind of wine should you use to make mulled wine?
Choose a full-bodied red wine such as Merlot, Shiraz, or Garnacha (also called Grenache) when making mulled wine.
Opt for red wines that use words like "fruity" or "jammy" in the description - these will pair nicely with the mulling spices and fruit.
Don't choose expensive wines here, as the additional ingredients may mask some of the nuances of the wine.
There's a time and place for pricey wine, and this isn't it!
I hope you enjoy my take on mulled wine. The blend of spices I use makes it really special.
Whether you serve it at a holiday dinner party or cozy up with a glass and a good book, I really hope it hits the spot for you.
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Make this easy spiced mulled wine recipe on the stovetop, in a slow cooker, or Instant Pot for the ultimate cozy spiked winter beverage.
- Pour wine into a large saucepan or Instant Pot insert (see notes). Add brandy, maple syrup, orange bitters, cloves, peppercorns, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and star anise.
- Using a vegetable peeler, cut 2-3 strips of peel from the orange, and place into the pot with the wine. Thinly slice the orange and reserve for garnish.
- Slowly bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- To serve, ladle mulled wine into mugs or heat-safe glasses, being careful not to scoop up any of the whole spices. Garnish with reserved orange slices.
The flavor of the spices deepens the longer it sits in the warmed wine. It also makes your house smell wonderful!
If making in a slow cooker, cook on low until warm, which should take about an hour depending on your slow cooker.
If using an Instant Pot, use the sauté function on "less" to simmer your mulled wine.
After your mulled wine is warmed, switch your slow cooker/Instant Pot "keep warm" setting so it stays nice and warm.
See notes in the post above for tips on choosing your wine and for making this on the stovetop.
- Serving Size: 1 glass
- Calories: 155
- Sugar: 6.8 g
- Sodium: 6.2 mg
- Fat: 0.1 g
- Saturated Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 10.8 g
- Fiber: 0.6 g
- Protein: 0.4 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: holiday entertaining, warm cocktail, mulling spices