Vin Brulé, Italian Mulled Wine

How to make vin brulé, Italian mulled wine. Serve this sweet and spiced hot wine at your next Christmas celebrations or enjoy the lovely mixture of flavours throughout the whole season! And let its flavour vicariously take you to an Alpine village on a crisp winter day.

There are varius types of mulled wine served around the world, so here’s the mulled wine from Italy. Vin brulé is a spiced hot beverage made with red wine and orange zest, plus a variety of spices. While you can choose your wine from a wide array of grapes, I’ll give you may personal favourites from my home region.

Italian mulled wine vin brulé served in two brown mugs.

What is vin brulé

Vin brulé is a Christmas drink from the Alpine regions of northern Italy. It is a sweetened and flavoured wine beverage mostly associated with the Christmas period. While many mulled wine variations (including glögg and Gluhwein) may include the addition of a spirit to increase the alcoholic content of the beverage, vin brulé is exclusively wine based. The name (in French) means “burnt wine”, as vin brulé is basically just wine that has been simmered – not really burned.

Just like with most mulled wine recipes, the palate is developed with a combination of spices and flavourings that are added to the wine. The traditional vin brulé spices are cloves and cinnamon, and in my recipe I also add star anise. Another unmissable ingredient is orange – sometimes it may just be the peel of a fresh orange like in Campari spritz, but I usually go for the juice as well. Zero waste.

Glass jug filled with mulled wine and spices, serving mugs next to it.

How to make Italian mulled wine

The main ingredient in vin brulé is obviously red wine. For the best flavour, a dry wine is recommended. See wine recommendations below.

Here are the other spices and flavourings:

The ingredients needed for this recipe.

 

  • Thinly peel the orange trying to get as little as possible of the white bitter part. Cut the orange in half and squeeze it.
  • Transfer the orange juice and zest to a saucepan. Add the sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves and one glass of wine (150 ml) and bring to a boil, constantly stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  • When the mixture reaches boiling temperature, add the star anise pods and the rest of the wine and keep it on the stove until it steams but does not boil.
  • Remove from the heat just before it reaches boiling temperature. Serve hot.

What kind of wine in vin brulé?

Vin brulé is traditionally made with red wine although lesser-known variations of the recipe exist that call for white wine. Here are some good tips when choosing wine for vin brulé:

  • Dry wine is perfect because we are adding sugar, so aim for anything with up to 9 g/L of residual sugar. A wine with a lot of residual sugar might deliver an end product that is too sweet.
  • Medium-low acidity is another great factor, since we are adding orange juice. It is important that your mulled wine does not end up too zippy – that’s generally a quality more appreciated in the warmer months.
  • Min. 13% ABV (alcohol by volume) is recommended, as the alcohol in wine will partially evaporate. Traditional vin brulé should have a boozy quality so we need to ensure that.
  • Barrel aged wines often have a spiced quality lent by the wood that makes them excellent mulled wine material. Oak barrels can give wines cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla notes which are definitely a bonus point. Here you can learn more about spiced wines.

In Italy it is very common to use local wines, so the choice is often regional. In my home region of Piedmont, the most common grapes for mulled wine are Dolcetto and Nebbiolo. Barbera grapes produce wines that have a usually higher acidity, so if you use Barbera skip the orange juice and just use the zest.

Glass jug with vin brulé. Star anise pods on the surface.

How to serve vin brulé

Keeping the spices in the wine for too long, especially on a continuous source of heat, will infuse the beverage too much changing the original flavour. Pour the mulled wine through a sieve to retain spices and orange peel if not serving immediately.

If serving immediately, it is okay to let some of the spices land in the serving mugs. Just make sure to inform your guests to avoid choking hazards!

Vin brulé is meant to be enjoyed hot, so keep it in a thermos or on low heat to make sure it stays warm. Make sure to never have it boiling, in order to not evaporate the alcohol completely.

Excellent Italian mulled wine pairings

The number one pairing to vin brulé is obviously panettone, the traditional Italian Christmas cake. But living abroad I have learned to appreciate different pairings – finding panettone abroad is not always easy. So here are some other possible options that can go well with Italian mulled wine:

  • Swedish saffron buns are mildly sweet and have this intense saffron flavour that nicely complements the other spices in mulled wine.
  • Spiced plum jam spread on a slice of sourdough bread is a lovely consistent pairing, with its delicate cloves aroma.
  • Swedish ginger thins – the Ikea cookies – are a great match. I mean, mulled wine and gingerbread are made for each other.
  • Spiced pear crisp is a fantastic dessert that can go so well with a mug of mulled wine!
  • Venison empanadas with their subtle cinnamon hint are the perfect savoury pastry if you prefer something that is not sweet.

Beer lovers in your company? Treat them to Polish mulled beer!

If you enjoyed this recipe please leave a comment below. Planning to try your hand at vin brulé at a later time? Pin the recipe to Pinterest!

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Glass jug with vin brulé. Star anise pods on the surface.
5 from 7 votes
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Vin brulé - Italian mulled wine

A spiced hot drink made with red wine and orange juice, vin brulé is a popular Christmas time drink from northern Italy.

Course Beverage
Cuisine Italian
Keyword christmas drink, italian mulled wine, vin brulé
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 199 kcal
Author Eva | Electric Blue Food

Ingredients

  • 750 ml red wine 1 bottle
  • 120 g sugar
  • 1 orange
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 10 whole cloves

Instructions

  1. Thinly peel the orange using a vegetable peeler to get as little as possible of the white bitter part. After that, cut the orange in half and squeeze it.

  2. Transfer the orange juice and peel to a saucepan. Add the sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves and one glass of wine (about 150 ml) and bring to a boil, constantly stirring to dissolve the sugar.

  3. When the mixture reaches boiling temperature, add the star anise pods and the rest of the wine and keep it on the stove until it steams but does not boil.

  4. Remove from the heat just before it reaches boiling temperature. Serve hot.

Recipe Notes

Serve this beverage hot. If you cannot serve it immediately, keep it on the lowest possible heat to prevent it from reaching boiling temperature and the subsequent evaporation of the alcohol.

Pour the mulled wine through a sieve to retain spices and orange peel if not serving vin brulé immediately. Keeping the spices in the wine for too long, especially on a continuous source of heat, would infuse the beverage too much ruining its original flavour.

Nutrition Facts
Vin brulé - Italian mulled wine
Amount Per Serving
Calories 199 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 6mg0%
Potassium 198mg6%
Carbohydrates 27g9%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 23g26%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 49IU1%
Vitamin C 12mg15%
Calcium 35mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This recipe was originally published in January 2017 and has been updated in October 2020 with new pictures and a recipe card. Edited October 2021 with more thorough wine information.

 

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27 Comments

  1. Mutsumi January 4, 2017 at 20:41

    Eva, the lovely story about your little hometown warmed me up. It seems similar to our custom that people go to Shinto Shrine for making the New Year’s wish and sweet sake gets served there for free. Your mulled wine sounds so delicious. I’d like to try making it!

    Reply
    1. Eva January 4, 2017 at 22:44

      I love to see that some patterns overcome cultures and borders, and I can imagine the feeling at the shrine from my own experience in front of the church in my village 🙂 Would love to experience it in person one day (one day I wish to spend new year’s eve in a time zone more east than the one I’m usually in, for the sake of welcoming the new year earlier :D).

      Reply
      1. Mutsumi January 5, 2017 at 15:46

        I liked New Year’s Eve in Denmark with fireworks in snow. It must be quite similar in Sweden?! 🙂

        Reply
        1. Eva January 5, 2017 at 18:29

          Yes, pretty much. When it snows, we didn’t really have snow this year. It came on January 3 😛

          Reply
          1. Mutsumi January 6, 2017 at 01:47

            Oh, I see. It has been a very mild winter here as well.

  2. Christina January 5, 2017 at 20:05

    oh I love mulled wine! Luckily, we have good and relatively cheap wine in Austria (though not as good as Italian wine!) so it’s also become a Christmas tradition for me and my friends to have an evening with mulled wine and cookies right before Christmas 🙂

    Reply
    1. Eva January 5, 2017 at 20:50

      I remember drinking Austrian wine in Norway and in Canada, it’s not bad at all 😉

      Reply
  3. Leslie December 23, 2020 at 20:09

    5 stars
    Goodness, what a lovely recipe! Mulled wine really hits the spot most days. This is the perfect recipe!

    Reply
    1. Eva December 26, 2020 at 15:49

      Thank you Leslie! Happy to hear you liked my recipe!

      Reply
  4. Kate December 24, 2020 at 02:27

    This really got us in the Christmas mood. Tasted amazing

    Reply
    1. Eva December 26, 2020 at 15:49

      Hi Kate! Happy to hear that you enjoyed it, this is the perfect time to be enjoying this!

      Reply
  5. Amanda December 26, 2020 at 00:38

    5 stars
    This was such a hit! The whole spices gave it such an incredible flavor, and it was perfectly cozy for Christmas Eve.

    Reply
    1. Eva December 26, 2020 at 15:52

      Thank you Amanda! I love having this for Christmas Eve, thank you for making this a part of your celebrations, too!

      Reply
  6. Heidy M December 26, 2020 at 15:08

    5 stars
    I love a good recipe for Italian mulled wine! This was perfect for serving for our Christmas gathering yesterday, and we all enjoyed it. Happy holidays to you and your loved ones! Here’s to a New Year!

    Reply
    1. Eva December 26, 2020 at 15:53

      Thank you Heidy! Awesome that your guests enjoyed it. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

      Reply
  7. Marta December 26, 2020 at 17:27

    5 stars
    We fell love with mulled wine while living in Germany and I’m always looking for ways to mix things up during the holidays. This looks like a great addition to the list. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Eva December 26, 2020 at 23:53

      Lovely! I hope you will enjoy the Italian version, Marta!

      Reply
  8. Debbie December 26, 2020 at 21:31

    5 stars
    We adored this Italian Mulled Wine and it was perfect on Christmas eve. It was a welcomed warm drink to get us in the Christmas Spirit. Thanks so much for sharing .

    Reply
    1. Eva December 26, 2020 at 23:54

      You’re welcome, Debbie! I’m glad it put you in the Christmas mood!

      Reply
  9. Erin December 27, 2020 at 17:52

    That’s so interesting about the differences between Swedish, German and northern Italian mulled drinks! I live in southern Germany and am not a huge fan of Gluehwein. I’ll have to try this version!

    Reply
    1. Eva December 28, 2020 at 21:14

      I hope you will enjoy this one, although I must say it’s quite similar to Gluehwein. I hope to get to taste the German one in Germany one day!

      Reply
  10. Alex December 27, 2020 at 21:05

    I love how few ingredients this recipe has! I’m still in a Christmas-y mood so I’ll need to give it a try. Also, it’s always fun to learn about international Christmas drinks!

    Reply
    1. Eva December 28, 2020 at 21:16

      Hi Alex! I love learning about world foods and drinks, too, especially related to holidays!

      Reply
  11. Laura Arteaga December 27, 2020 at 22:51

    5 stars
    We loved this recipe! it brought me back to Germany, where we use to get Gluwine during Christmas season. So nice to see other countries having a similar tradition.
    Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Eva December 28, 2020 at 21:17

      Thank you Laura! How lovely this brought back some sweet memories!

      Reply
  12. Ramona December 28, 2020 at 17:41

    5 stars
    Me and my husband love making mulled wine! we tried to make it on Christmas eve and it was perfect. It had all the flavours and I am really excited to try It out again, I need to try this recipe, thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Eva December 28, 2020 at 21:17

      Hi Ramona! I love a glass of mulled wine on Christmas Eve, too! Hope you’ll like this one.

      Reply

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