Best mulled wine to buy – taste tested by experts
Wine expert Henry Jeffreys has tried the best ready-made mulled wines to buy this Christmas. Here are his top bottle recommendations
On a cold winter’s evening, there’s no more welcoming smell than that of mulled wine wafting from the kitchen. The air heavy with spices, fruit and alcohol, transports you to those jolly Christmas scenes in your favourite books or films. The problem, however, often comes when you taste the stuff. It’s often much too sweet, bitter with overcooked spices and, worst of all, lacking in alcohol from being boiled. Some of the worst I’ve had were at Christmas markets that had clearly been stewing for hours.
There are plenty of mulled wine recipes on the BBC Good Food site, but if you haven’t got time to make your own, you can always buy ready-made mulled wine. I was surprised by how palatable some of them were. With the best you could really taste the quality of the (usually Spanish) base wine while the sugar and spices were quite discrete. Serve them in little glass cups with handles, add a bit of orange peel and nobody will know that you didn’t make it yourself.
And finally, whether you’re buying it in or making it yourself, a glug of port, sloe gin or even rum before serving will lift the whole thing.
Read on to discover the ultimate guide to the best mulled wines to buy. For more like this, visit our reviews section to find round-ups of the best port, best gifts for wine lovers and best gifts for foodies.
10 best ready-made mulled wines at a glance
- Best German mulled wine: Harvey Nichols Mulled Wine, £15.95
- Best for a gift: M&S Red Mulled Wine, £6
- Best mulled wine cup: Ableforth's Winter Mulled Cup, £28.95
- Best all-rounder: Waitrose Mulled Wine, £5.49
- Best upmarket choice: Fraser’s Mulled Wine, £17.99
- Best mulled fruit wine: Lyme Bay Mulled Wine, £6.99
- Best flavoured mulled wine: Sainsbury's Taste the Difference chocolate mulled wine, £6.50
- Best glühwein: Felix Solis Glühwein, £6.25
- Best budget choice: Tesco Mulled Wine, £3
- Best non-alcoholic mulled wine: Eisberg Alcohol-Free Mulled Wine, £3
10 best ready-made mulled wines to buy 2023
Harvey Nichols Mulled Wine
- Available from Harvey Nichols (£15.95)
Best German mulled wine
This vies with Frasers’ as the fanciest mulled wine on the market, but it’s quite different. Using high-quality red wines from the Rhine region in Germany, you can really taste how good the wine is. This is light and fragrant with very delicate spicing. One to give to people who think they don’t like mulled wine.
Harvey Nichols (£15.95)
Ableforth's Winter Mulled Cup
- Available from Master of Malt (£28.85)
Best mulled wine cup
This is a really clever drink. It’s a blend of cognac, port and various fruits and spices. Yes, it’s expensive, but you only need to add 50ml (meaning there are 10 serves in here) to each bottle of table wine, some sugar and you have a delicious hot beverage. Perfect every time.
Master of Malt (£28.85)
M&S Red Mulled Wine
- Available from Ocado (£6)
Best for a gift
I love the art nouveau label on this one. You’d be delighted to find it in your stocking this Christmas. Happily, the contents are up to snuff too. This one comes from Germany and it tastes like there’s some decent quality wine in here, enhanced by subtle spicing. Bit of class.
More like this
Waitrose Mulled Wine
- Available from Waitrose (£5.49)
Another one made with Spanish wine and you can really taste it: lots of fruit, just a little tannin, plus a good healthy 11% ABV. The wine leads here, with the spices and sweetness kept in the background. Mulled wine for grown-ups.
Fraser’s Mulled Wine
- Available from Fraser’s (£17.99)
Best upmarket choice
Hands down the best mulled wine I’ve ever had. Freshly made in small batches with Spanish tempranillo wine blended with spices, bay leaves and citrus, you’ll struggle to make something this good at home. Whatever you do, warm it gently, don’t boil!
Lyme Bay Mulled Wine
Best mulled fruit wine
This offering is a bit different. Instead of grapes, it’s made from a blend of damson and elderberry wine – all extremely English. It smells highly-spiced, with the damsons coming through strongly, but it’s quite gentle on the palate and only 5.5% ABV, so a good lower-alcohol option.
Sainsbury's Taste the Difference chocolate mulled wine
- Available from Sainsbury’s (£6.50)
Best flavoured mulled wine
This won’t appeal to everyone but some people are going to absolutely love it. The smooth dark chocolate goes brilliantly with the ripe fruit in the wine to produce something that tastes a bit like liquid Black Forest gateau and, best of all, there’s a good dollop of brandy in it so watch out!
Felix Solis Glühwein
- Available from Tesco (£6.25)
I’ve had some of the worst mulled wine ever in Vienna, sickeningly sweet and hardly any booze. This is much nicer, made from a decent-quality Spanish red with plenty of spice, not too sweet and a handy 12% ABV. A proper winter warmer.
Tesco Mulled Wine
- Available from Tesco (£3)
Best budget choice
Cinnamon and clove forward, very spicy indeed and not too sweet, this isn’t bad at all, especially for the money. Another one that’s low in alcohol at 5.5% ABV, it really benefits from a good slug of port being added to each cup.
Eisberg Alcohol-Free Mulled Wine
- Available from Tesco (£3)
Best non-alcoholic mulled wine
I was surprised by how tasty this is. It’s sweet but not too sweet with lots of spices and a warming rich flavour. If you were given this on the street on a cold December’s night with a piece of orange floating in it, I’m not sure you’d even guess there wasn’t any alcohol in it.
Great mulled wine recipes
Try one of BBC Good Food’s mulled wine recipes, from classic versions to alternative options for non-traditionalists.
This review was last updated in November 2023. If you have any questions or suggestions for future reviews, or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at email@example.com. For information on alcohol guidelines, read our guide to drinking responsibly.