Food for Thought: The Festive History of Mulled Wine

Mulled wine is warm, spiced, and everything nice. This classic drink is perfect for cozying up by the fire with friends and family and enjoying some good ol’ holiday magic. In this installment of Food for Thought, we’re looking at the origins of mulled wine and giving you a freshly steeped recipe for the perfect cup. 

Ancient Beginnings 

The exact origin of mulled wine is hard to pin down. Some point to the Greeks, while others say the Romans are the geniuses behind it. 

In ancient Greece, it was believed that the drink had medicinal properties. So, the first iteration of mulled wine was called “hippocras,” which was named after Hippocrates who is considered the Father of Medicine. Wine was thought to be more sanitary than water, so it stands to reason that the wine could help people stay “healthy” during the colder months. 

While in ancient Rome, they used warmed wine to fight the cold in the winter. During this time, trade on the Silk Road made spices like ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg more widely available. The use of spices helped to mask the flavor of spoiled wine, which helped harvests last longer. 

Popularity in Europe

During the Middle Ages, mulled wine spread widely through Europe. The base was similar, but different countries created several variations.In Germany, it’s called Glühwein, or glow-wine, named for the feeling you get after drinking a glass. In Sweden, the spiced drink really took off and became a cultural staple. They created many variations like Claret and Lutendrank. As recipe books started publishing spiced wine recipes, the name glogg took off which later shifted to cognacs-glogg. 

Mulled Wine gets jolly

How did mulled wine become synonymous with Christmas? Specifically, in Victorian England. Some credit Charles Dickens’ mention of a mulled wine punch known as a “Smoking Bishop” in his holiday classic, A Christmas Carol. 

Over time in Sweden, they even sold bottles of spiced wine donned with Santa Claus on the label. These festive bottles were distributed throughout Europe and helped many people make the connection between mulled wine and holiday festivities. 

Now, let’s get a little jolly ourselves and whip up our very own batch, right from the Shipt kitchen. 

Mulled Wine Recipe 


750 milliliters of your choice of red wine (approximately 1 bottle) 

½ cup sugar 

1 navel orange

1 lime

2 cinnamon sticks

6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed

5 allspice berries 

6 cloves

12 gratings nutmeg

3 slices from a thumb-sized piece of ginger

Sliced almonds, for garnish 

Rosemary sprigs, for garnish


 1. Using a vegetable peeler, zest the orange and lime.

 2. In a large saucepan, add sugar, zest, all the spices, and the ginger. 

 3. Squeeze the juice from the orange and lime. Top off with a splash of the red wine.

 4. Heat the mixture on medium low until the sugar dissolves to develop the flavors of the spices.

 5. Pour in the rest of the wine. Make sure to keep the heat low and keep it from boiling. Heat for about 10 minutes to cook off the alcohol.

 6. Remove from heat and let steep for about 20 minutes. 

 7. When ready to serve, put the mixture back on low heat, making sure not to boil, and serve. 

 8. Serve in a mug with slices of orange, a sprig of rosemary, and sliced almonds.

Optional: If you want an extra kick, add a shot of your favorite liquor like brandy, vodka, or akvavit. 

Ready to get hosting with your very own mulled wine? Get everything you need delivered with Shipt

Alcohol delivery is available in select areas and varies by retailer. You must be 21+ with a valid ID to order or receive alcohol. Shipt credits cannot be applied to alcohol items. 

Category: Food & Drink

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