The Best Reds To Turn To When Making Mulled Wine

When brainstorming cocktails and adult beverages to serve this holiday season, mulled wine frequently is on the menu, and for a good reason. This warmed wine drink features a festive blend of spices and citrus for a drink that's both comforting and mature. The best part is that mulled wine is simple to make at home. All you need is a bottle of red wine, spices of your choice, and a pot to simmer your mixture in. When thinking of the best red wine to use for mulling, there are many things you can consider, such as if you want a sweet or bitter wine, or if you want a wine with more fruit notes.

The red wine you choose can introduce another layer of complex flavors to your dish. In a conversation with Tasting Table, Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis of Bright Cellars shared a few of her preferences. "The flavors in mulled wine are very bold and strong, so feel free to use whatever reds you have on hand, though bolder, fruitier reds such as Malbec, Red Blends, Syrah, and Zinfandel work really well," said Fallis. 

You can think of selecting a red wine for mulling the same way you'd choose a red wine for cooking: If you wouldn't drink the wine on its own, you probably shouldn't use it for the recipe. Your favorite red wine works great for mulling — or you can branch out for something new.

Tasting notes to consider for mulled wine

If you're looking to try a new red wine for your mulled creation, thinking of the tasting notes present in the wine can create a powerful flavor combination with the mulled spices. As Fallis mentioned, fruity flavors can be a great starting point. Red wines with tasting notes such as red fruits and black fruits can bring out the citrus flavors of mulled wine and contrast nicely with the spices. Certain red wines contain spiced notes already and choosing a red wine that has the same tasting notes as the spices you use for mulling can emphasize the flavors. If you're someone who prefers a spicier mulled wine this is the direction for you.

A unique tasting note you could choose to focus on is vanilla. Some mulled wine recipes feature the use of vanilla pods to bring a comforting, festive aroma to the blend. Certain Malbec, Zinfandel, and Marsala wines have vanilla-tasting notes in them. If you love a sweeter taste to your mulled wines, emphasizing the vanilla is a great direction to take your beverage. Experiment with different red wines to find the combination you love best; you may just create a new annual holiday tradition for yourself.