What Does Mulled Wine Taste Like? A Sensory Journey

Last Updated on November 27, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Have you ever sipped a drink that felt like a warm hug in a glass? That’s precisely what mulled wine tastes like to me. It’s a festive drink combining the wine’s richness with the mix of mulling spices.

But precisely, what does mulled wine taste like? Will this spiced drink appeal to the palates of beginners?

Today, let me share its delightful and complex flavors.

Mulled Wine’s Taste & Flavor

Glass of Mulled Wine


On the palate, mulled wines feature a blend of flavors. The base, usually a red wine, provides a familiar grapey depth.

However, the added ground spices and whole spices, like cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom pods, orange slices, and star anise, truly transform it.

“Mulled wines are a symphony of spices and warmth in every delightful sip.” – Liquor Laboratory

These spices infuse the mulled wine recipe with warm, slightly spicy, and richly aromatic characters that make mulled wine a complex experience.

Read: Gluhwein vs Mulled Wine


The aroma of the classic mulled wine is as important as its taste. It emits a captivating scent as it simmers in your crock pot or slow cooker.

The nose picks up the sweet and spicy notes of the cinnamon stick, the citrusy brightness from the orange peel (or orange zest), and the deep, winey base. It’s a smell that swears comfort and warmth.


Mulled wine is visually striking. Its color deepens from the red wine’s standard hue to a richer, darker shade.

This change is due to the prolonged simmering (usually in a slow cooker) of spices and fruits, which also imparts a slight cloudiness. It’s a visual feast reminiscent of the coziness of the holiday season.


Whether homemade mulled wine or a store-bought spiced wine from the Christmas market, the finish is often long and satisfying.

After the initial rush of warm mulled wine, the spiced flavors dominate, leaving a lingering sweetness and a hint of spice on the palate.

This hot wine boasts a smooth and cozy aftertaste (sometimes enhanced with apple cider), making it a perfect drink for any holiday gathering.

Read: Sangria vs Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine’s Taste Compared To Regular Wine

Glass of Mulled Wine with Slice of Orange and Star Anise

Compared to regular wines, spiced wine exudes an entirely different experience.

While regular wines focus on the grape’s flavor, terroir, and winemaking technique, a mulled wine recipe is all about the balance of added spices and fruits.

So, spiced wine is sweeter, spicier, and far warmer.

The cooking process makes homemade spiced wine warm, which not only changes the flavor profile but also the way the body responds to the drink, providing a comforting warmth.

“The key to infusion of anything is time.” – Chris Damian, Chef & Bar Owner 

Tip: If you are making your own mulled drink, cook it in medium-high heat and reheat it in low heat to retain as much alcohol as possible. 


How should mulled wines taste?

Mulled wines should taste rich, warm, and spicy, with a balance of sweetness and the robustness of red wine. The spices should be prominent but not overpowering.

Also, there’s a hint of zesty kick, usually from the orange slice or lemon zest. But how long does mulled wine last?

Is mulled wine sweet or Dry?

Traditionally, mulled wines lean towards the sweet side. However, its sweetness can vary depending on the mulled wine recipe and the type of wine used as the base.

But the best wine for mulled wines is full-bodied, like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. But you can also use white wine or apple cider.

Can you drink mulled wines straight?

Yes, you can drink mulled wines straight. It’s typically served warm with cinnamon sticks and is perfect for sipping on a cold evening.

Are mulled wines as strong as wines?

Mulled wines (or vin chaud in France) [1] are generally about as strong as the wines they’re made from. However, adding spices and the slow cooker process can make all the alcohol feel less intense.

Are mulled wines sweet?

Mulled wines are usually sweetened to some degree. But the sweetness complements the spices and helps balance the flavors.

While sugar is the common sweetener, you can try using apple cider or apple juice if you want the sweetness milder.

To Sum It Up

Mulled wines are more than just a drink; it’s an experience [2]. With its warm, spicy, and sweet flavors, it’s like a festive season in a glass.

So, whether you’re new to mulled wines or a seasoned fanatic, this will surely hit a spot on your palate. It’s an excellent drink to heat up, especially this winter!



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here or feel free to give Lydia a tip.

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