Roman Mulled Wine

In Vino Veritas

Mulled or spiced wine is a staple beverage for most historic time periods. Not only is it is delicious drink, perfect for those just cold enough days in the late spring or early fall, but it is the best way to save a cheap, not so tasty bottle of wine. If there is one thing our ancestors of all eras could agree on, it's not wasting a bottle of wine.

An easy recipe for ancient roman spiced wine.

I took four different recipes found by a quick Google search; two from known historical site I have used in the past, one from a newer blog and the last from the least likely source, a modern cooking magazine. I did say that spiced wine never goes out of style didn't I?

From this brief survey, I noticed a few similarities. Each starts with a base of wine (obviously) & honey, although the specific amounts varied greatly. Spices can vary too, depending on what the prefered flavor pallet was during the era. Otherwise the recipe is pretty simple, just the kind of historic recipe I need. In the end I erred on the side of stronger and used whatever spices I had the most of in my overflowing spice cabinet. I typically throw a recipe like this together at the last minute, a day or two before rushing off to an event when that last minute “oh shit, I forgot” happens. The larger amount of spices more than makes up for the lack of steeping time.


Wine: 4 bottles, very dry red or white. Or frankly whatever is cheap. We are “improving” it after all.
Honey: 24 oz
Black pepper: 4 tsp
Saffron: pinch
Bay leaf: 4 leaves
Cinnamon or fennel seeds: 4 tsp
Dates & stones: 8 whole

Mosaic of Amphora with Doves on Rim, Flanked by Peacocks
450-462 AD, Chazen Museum of Art.


Combine the honey & wine in a large pot over a low fire, stirring while the 2 blend. Keep this at a low heat. Just enough to melt the honey so it mixes with the wine, but not enough to boil anything & lose any of the alcohol. Toss in all your spices. Simmer until you can't resist the smell any longer. Strain & consume immediately.

Alternately, strain & re-bottle to enjoy later. If you are really planning ahead, skip the straining step and let it steep in the bottle until your next event. This reheats easily & will sit happily over a low fire all day long. If you can manage to keep the pot full that is!

In Vino Veritas, Latin expression.

Title Image:
Still life with eggs, birds and bronze dishes, The House of Julia Felix, Pompeii.

Works Cited: