TCM-Inspired Mulled Wine

This gently sweet mulled wine is balanced with fragrant clove, cinnamon, and star anise, plus a hint of brown sugar.

TCM-Inspired Mulled Wine

Charissa Fay / Food Styling by Nora Singley / Prop Styling by Maeve Sheridan

Active Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
45 mins
6 servings

Warming the body, promoting healthy blood circulation, and lifting the mood are all benefits of drinking this mulled wine in cold and dry weather. In traditional Chinese medicine food therapy, saffron or safflower wine has a long history of treating blood stagnation, a common winter ailment, says chef and TCM food therapist Zoey Xinyi Gong, who shared this recipe. Gong, who grew up in Shanghai, moved to the U.S. as a teenager, and studied nutrition at NYU, relies on classic TCM herbal formulas (there are more than 12,000) as the base for her recipes and then builds on them, drawing on her training as a registered dietitian, her cooking experience, and her whims. This mulled wine is a soothing and delicious beverage, infused with whole dried spices and dried fruit, and just mildly sweet from a touch of dark brown sugar and jujube dates.


  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle dry red wine (such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir, or Malbec)

  • 2 cups pure cranberry juice or pomegranate juice

  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves

  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)

  • 1 teaspoon saffron

  • 3 (2 1/2-inch) cinnamon sticks

  • 4 whole star anise

  • 12 jujube dates (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1/3 cup goji berries (about 1 1/4 ounces)

  • 4 slices whole angelica root 

  • 4 (3-inch) thyme sprigs

  • 2 (4-inch) rosemary sprigs

  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar or honey (optional)


  1. Combine wine, juice, cloves, zest, saffron, cinnamon, star anise, dates, goji berries, angelica root, thyme, and rosemary in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to low, and cover; simmer, undisturbed, until flavors have melded, about 30 minutes.

  2. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large heatproof bowl; discard solids. If desired, stir in brown sugar or honey until combined. Pour mulled wine into a punch bowl or pitcher. Serve warm.

To Make Ahead

Mulled wine can be made up to 2 days ahead; reheat before serving.


For a sweeter mulled wine, increase brown sugar to taste.

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