How Does Mulled Wine Taste Compared to Regular Wine?

Mulled wine is a warm drink often consumed during holiday celebrations. It is often made with red wine, but other ingredients vary per recipe, including the use of white wine. The wine is simmered on very low heat for a short time with aromatic spices and fruit; some recipes even add sugar. Common mulled wine ingredients include:

  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Star anise
  • Apples
  • Orange zest
  • Cider
  • Brandy

Telling the Difference

Many wines contain similar flavors to mulled wine. They can share fruity, tart, sweet and smoky notes; however, mulled wine's flavors are more robust due to the added ingredients. Mulled wine is almost always sweeter and fruitier in flavor due to both the added sugar and the fruit used to create the drink. Mulled wine is served at a warmer temperature than regular wine and also has a spiced quality that regular wine is missing.

The warmth of mulled wine really makes a difference, as some studies indicate tastes can be altered by differing temperatures. It turns out that while sweetness is not greatly affected when foods and drinks are heated, sourness and astringency are more pronounced when tasted at a warmer temperature. This may explain the types of ingredients found in mulled wine, with the sweet and spicy additives being used to counteract the intensified sour and astringent qualities of wine that has been warmed.