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How Long Does Mulled Wine Last? Tips for Storage

How Long Does Mulled Wine Last

Last Updated on March 22, 2024 by Lydia Martin

As someone who loves mulled wine’s rich, comforting taste during the holiday season, I’ve often wondered, “How long does mulled wine last?”

Through my experiences and thorough research, I’ve gathered some valuable insights to share with you. Keep reading.

What is mulled wine?

Mulled wine is a warm and aromatic beverage that has roots tracing back centuries, with its origins often associated with European winter traditions. This festive drink is typically made by heating red wine and infusing it with a medley of spices, fruits, and sometimes sweeteners. The result is a comforting and flavorful concoction that embodies the spirit of the holiday season.

The base of mulled wine is usually red wine, chosen for its robust flavor and ability to blend seamlessly with the added ingredients. Commonly used spices include cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, and nutmeg, imparting a rich and complex aroma to the beverage. Additionally, citrus fruits such as oranges or lemons contribute a zesty brightness, while sweeteners like sugar or honey enhance the overall sweetness.

The preparation of mulled wine involves gently heating the wine and spice mixture, allowing the flavors to meld together. It’s crucial to avoid boiling the wine, as excessive heat can compromise the alcohol content and alter the intended taste. Many recipes also call for a brief simmer to intensify the infusion of spices.

How Long Does Mulled Wine Last?

Filling Glass with Mulled Wine

The shelf life of mulled wine (or vin chaud) depends on a few factors, including how you store mulled wine and whether it’s an opened bottle or sealed.

For unopened bottles, storing mulled wine in a cool, dark place allows it to last for a couple of weeks to months. But it will be different for opened bottles of mulled wine, which can only last up to three days.

“Winter’s delight is found in a mug of slowly simmered, spiced mulled wine.” – Liquor Laboratory

While the whole spices and sugar (sometimes maple syrup) act as preservatives, an opened wine will oxidize, slowly diminishing the freshness and flavor. But what does mulled wine taste like?

How long does mulled wine last once opened?

Once opened, the shelf life of mulled wine is relatively short, typically lasting about 3 to 5 days when stored properly.

The key to preserving the quality and taste of mulled wine after opening is refrigeration. Transfer any leftover mulled wine into an airtight container and promptly place it in the refrigerator. This helps slow down the oxidation process and prevents the growth of bacteria, ensuring the beverage remains safe for consumption.

As mulled wine is a heated and spiced beverage, it is more susceptible to spoilage than regular wine. The combination of added ingredients and exposure to air can impact its freshness.

While the alcohol content acts as a preservative, it’s still advisable to adhere to the recommended storage guidelines to enjoy the best possible taste. If any signs of off-putting odors, flavors, or changes in appearance occur, it’s recommended to discard the mulled wine to prioritize safety and flavor integrity.

To maximize the enjoyment of this festive drink, it’s ideal to consume it promptly or within the specified timeframe after opening.

Storage Tips On How To Make It Last Longer

Seal In an Airtight Storage Container

A homemade mulled wine or a bottled mulled wine product that’s been opened must be transferred to an airtight container or another bottle with a cork enclosure to prevent oxidation.

This keeps the flavors of leftover mulled wine intact and extends its shelf life.

Read: Mulled Wine vs Gluhwein

Refrigerate After Opening

Always refrigerate opened mulled wine after opening. Cold temperatures slow down deterioration, making mulled wine fresh for longer.

But the spiced wine should cool completely before refrigeration, especially for a homemade mulled wine recipe since it lacks preservatives, unlike store-bought spiced wine in a Christmas market.

Store In A Cool, Dark Place

Store an unopened wine bottle in a cool, dark place, like a cellar or pantry. Direct sunlight and warmer temperatures (or any warm setting) can spoil the festive drink faster.

Freeze

You can freeze mulled wine if you plan to store it longer. I suggest freezing your spiced wine in ice cube trays for easy thawing and use in future cooking or as a quick warm-up drink at a holiday gathering.

Read: Mulled Wine vs Sangria

Does Mulled Wine Go Bad?

Person Making Mulled Wine

Mulled wine does go bad, especially if not stored properly. Oxidation and microbial growth can spoil the wine, making it unsafe after a certain point.

It must be consumed immediately, typically with a red wine base (ideally, not oak-aged), to avoid masking the spices.

The best wine to use is full-bodied, like a Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Zinfandel, or Syrah. Avoid using Pinot Noir [1] since it’s milder.

Tip: Add spices (like orange zest, lemon zest, star anise, cinnamon stick, or cardamom pods), a splash of citrus juice (like lemon juice, orange juice, apple juice, or apple cider), or add slices of fruits (like orange slices) to impart other flavors if needed after reheating. You can also add brandy and ensure it is served warm for the best experience. 

How To Tell Mulled Wine Has Gone Bad

  • If the base wine smells sour or has a strange odor, it indicates that it has gone bad.
  • Once you notice some off flavors, such as a vinegary taste, it’s unsafe for consumption.
  • If the wine starts to look cloudy or you notice a sediment formation at the bottom, discard it immediately.
  • Any signs of mold growth are a clear indicator of spoilage.

How To Reheat Mulled Wine

Glass of Muled Wine

When reheating, use low heat and avoid boiling the wine to preserve the flavors and aromas. Refrain from overheating to avoid cooking off all the alcohol.

“Mulled wine is a wine that is heated and spiced and so should be your lover sometimes.” – Alain Brémond-Torrent, Author 

Also, opt for medium-high heat, then adjust to low heat when simmering. (That’s why I opt to use a slow cooker.) If you want to warm mulled wine on a stove or crock pot, stir frequently to prevent boiling.

When using a microwave or Dutch oven, choose a low-power setting and stop before boiling occurs. You can also use a slow cooker if you have one.

FAQ Related to How long does mulled wine last

How long does mulled wine last after it’s been prepared?

Mulled wine typically lasts for about 2 to 3 days when stored properly in the refrigerator. However, its flavor may change slightly over time.

Can I store mulled wine at room temperature?

It’s recommended to store mulled wine in the refrigerator to preserve its quality and prevent spoilage. Room temperature storage may cause the wine to spoil more quickly.

How can I store leftover mulled wine?

Transfer the leftover mulled wine into an airtight container or bottle and place it in the refrigerator. This helps maintain its freshness and prevents any contamination.

Can I freeze mulled wine for later use?

While it’s technically possible to freeze mulled wine, it’s not recommended as the flavor and texture may be altered upon thawing.

How can I tell if mulled wine has gone bad?

Signs that mulled wine has gone bad include changes in color, off odors, or a sour taste. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the mulled wine.

Can I reheat mulled wine that has been refrigerated?

Yes, you can reheat mulled wine on the stove over low heat or in the microwave, but be careful not to let it boil, as this can alter the flavor. Heat only the amount you plan to consume to avoid repeated heating and cooling.

On A Final Note

Mulled wine can last for weeks to months if unopened, considering it’s stored properly, and up to three days opened. Keep it in airtight containers, refrigerate after opening, and store it in a cool, dark place.

Freezing is also an option for long-term storage. Always check for signs of spoilage like foul smell, taste, appearance, or mold.

When reheating, do so gently to preserve its flavors. Remember, enjoying mulled wines [2] is all about the experience, so store it right to savor it at its best.

References:

  1. https://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/11/19/3072
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/elvaramirez/2020/10/30/mulled-wine-ideas-from-around-the-world/
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