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.

Italian mulled wine

Vin brulé is a Christmas drink from northern Italy, in particular from the Alpine regions. 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 as it is the case with most mulled wine recipes, also in the case of vin brulé the palate is developed with a combination of spices and flavourings that are added to the wine. The traditional spices are cloves and cinnamon, and in my vin brulé I like to 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 add the juice as well.

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

How to make vin brulé

To make Italian mulled wine you will need the following ingredients:

    • A bottle of red wine, preferably dry
    • Sugar, to really make the spices shine and sweeten the dry wine
    • One orange, juiced and peeled
    • Star anise pods
    • Cinnamon sticks
    • Whole cloves

Vin brulé flavours: fresh orange, cinnamon, star anise and cloves.

Instructions

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Italian mulled wine vin brulé served in two brown mugs.

What kind of wine in vin brulé?

Vin brulé is traditionally made with red wine, but there are lesser-known variations of the recipe that call for white wine especially in north-eastern Italy. In Piedmont, where I was born and raised, the wines of choice usually comprise Dolcetto or a young Nebbiolo. Barbera, another popular grape variety and wine, may be too acidic once paired with the citrus juice. Any medium-bodied dry red wine does the job well, perferably choosing one that has min. 13% alcohol.

The alcohol in wine evaporates as the wine cooks. This is why a small amount of wine is used at the beginning, and most of it is only added at a later time. The first glass of wine that gets simmered with the spices basically loses all of its alcoholic content, but the purpose is to infuse it with the spices. The rest of the wine that is added later should only get heated and removed from the heat before it boils. Vin brulé must be served hot. If you cannot serve it immediatly, it should be kept on the lowest heat possible, to prevent the alcohol from evaporating.

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

Serving tips

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.

In Italy vin brulé is a classic Christmas market drink. It is traditionally served also on Christmas Eve. Growing up I remember the whole village gathering in front of the church on Christmas Eve after midnight mass to exchange wishes. There was always a small stall offering slices of panettone, the Italian Christmas cake, along with vin brulé and thick hot chocolate. Winter nights are pretty cold on the Alps, even if you live down in a valley like my parents do. But a paper cup of Italian mulled wine can surely warm you up from the very tips of your fingers.

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. Throughout the years I have both gained experience and collected props to make my pictures more interesting, thus the need for some updating of older content. Yet, back in the day I was pretty fond of the original pictures from this recipe. So I’m keeping one here, to honour my past efforts as a beginner food blogger. And celebrate my growth as a food photographer.

mulled-wine-spices-2

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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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