14 September 17 / By Soul Holistic Health / Recipes

What is Mulled Wine and Its History?

Mulled wine originated in the 2nd century. Europeans combined hot wine with warming spices to maintain health and ward off sickness.

In Greece, in order to prevent waste, they heated leftover wine and added spices. It was called “hippocras” after Hippocrates, because of the health benefits of the mulling spices.

Over the years, many cultures have created their own versions of mulled wine. Nordic countries call it glogg, Bosnia and Croatia serve kuhano vino and wassail is a mulled drink in England to name a few.

The Wine Tastes Great, But What About The Herbs?


Mulling spices consist of warming herbs, dried fruit and citrus zest. The combination of herbs vary, but typically feature cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, allspice, ginger, star anise and fennel. The fruit may include apple, orange, lemon or raisins.

The chart below lists some of the health benefits of herbs used for mulling wine.  They can also be used in cider if you are looking for a non-alcoholic version.  Like everything herbal, there is always room for creativity and personal expression.

Cinnamon Antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-parasitic, fights diabetes and heart disease, stimulates the digestive system, antiviral and antibiotic
Nutmeg Antioxidant, detoxifying (liver & kidney), antibacterial, digestive aid and pain relief
Cardamom Soothes the stomach and intestines
Cloves Anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, cold and flu prevention, expectorant and improves digestion
Allspice Carminative, digestive stimulant, digestive tonic, antioxidant and antiseptic
Ginger Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, nausea relieving, digestive aid and immune boosting.
Star Anise Antioxidant, anti-fungal, antibacterial, improves digestion and alleviates nausea
Fennel Enhances digestive function, carminative,
Citrus fruit Supports a healthy immune system, antioxidant

This is a favorite drink around the holidays, when people are indoors, windows are closed and rich, decadent food is served.

The combination of these herbs enhances digestion, and are anti-microbial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.  Oranges are high in vitamin C which supports the immune system and protects against colds and flu.

Using elderberry syrup as a sweetener adds to the immune system support helping keep winter illness at bay.  Honey is antibacterial and is a good choice as well.

Red wine is used and rum or brandy can be added, but are optional. Alcohol is very effective in increasing the bio-availability of many herbs and is used quite often in herbal preparations.  I use my favorite red wine, but, as was done in Greece, it can be an effective way to jazz a cheap bottle of wine or re-purpose the end of a bottle you tried that was not your taste.

Mulled wine is not only enjoyable, but it is essentially a great tasting and wonderful smelling tincture.

Try this basic mulled wine recipe.  It is simple to make and will make your home smell festive and spicy.

Mulled Wine

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Print

Based on a recipe from Gimme Some Oven blog


1 bottle of red wine (750 ml)

¼ cup honey or sugar or elderberry syrup

½ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ginger

8 whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

2 star anise

¼ cup brandy (optional)


  • Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer (do not boil) over medium high heat.
  • Reduce heat to medium low, and let simmer for at least 15 minutes or up to 3 hours.
  • Strain
  • Serve warm with garnish if desired

Garnish ideas: citrus or apple slices, whole cinnamon sticks, star anise. You can use fancy glasses and pomegranate seeds for a New Year’s Eve party cocktail or serve warm in your favorite mug.

If you use whole herbs rather than powdered, you can also place them in cheesecloth or a small muslin bag (both can be purchased at a kitchen store). Simply pull out the herbs when ready to serve.

Dress it up or keep it simple.  It’s a great drink for a New Year’s Eve party with friends and family or for a night of Netflix by the fire with wool socks and flannel pajamas.




Smith, Adrian. “The History of Mulled Wine.” Vivino. N.p., 22 Dec. 2015. Web. 07 Nov. 2016.

“Mulled Wine Recipe | Gimme Some Oven.” Gimme Some Oven. N.p., 16 Oct. 2013. Web. 07 Nov. 2016.

“Exploring The History Of Mulled Wine”. Ideal-Wine_Company, 10 Nov. 2016. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.

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