I know what you’re thinking: all mulled wine pretty much tastes the same. That’s what I thought too, until last Friday afternoon when I sat down with blog editor Sonya Barber to sample a broad selection of spiced, grape-based drinks.
Over an intense two-hour period, we blind taste-tested ten festive beverages with the kind of ‘expert’ detail you expect from two writers who’ve drunk more than a bottle of mulled wine each.
I can now categorically inform you that the flavour of mulled wine is actually dramatically variable, spanning from ‘if I was at a party, I would drink it and then feel sick’ to ‘FUMEY’. Or at least that’s what we wrote down. I didn’t fully understand our notes, so here they are unedited.
Co-operative Mulled Wine
Smooth entry, but gets you in the back of the throat. A decent-tasting drink with a rich cinnamon flavour. Smells better than it tastes. Winey.
Harvey Nichols Loimu: 2014 vintage, £18.50
Delicious sharp citrus flavour. Very drinkable. Tastes homemade in a good way. Genuine wine. Does it taste of star anise?!
Asda Mulled Wine, £2.50
It’s a bit artificial and powdery. Like the wine at Christmas markets. Tastes like strong squash. Fake vanilla? Plastic? Low on booziness. Not very drinkable.
Tesco Mulled Wine, £3.99
Strong cherry flavour like cough syrup. High sugar and fruit flavour but low spice. Gloopy. Mulled for long time? Max mull. 150% MULL. If I was at a party, I would drink it then feel sick. Pungent.
Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Mulled Wine, £6
Medium spice and sweetness. Not that fruity. Very boozy. Smells like wine, sweet hot wine. Very drinkable though. Could drink a lot of this without feeling sick. 15% mull.
Asda Ginger Mulled Wine, £2.50
High spice. Extreme ginger. Alcohol disguised by ginger. Low sweetness and fruitiness. Edgy mull. An alternative option? Good for non-mull fans.
M&S Mulled Wine, £6
PUNGENT. Fumey but surprisingly bland. All talk no trouser? High on sweetness, fruitiness and spice. 120% unpleasant mull. Paint stripper.
Lidl Christkindl Mulled Wine, £4.99
Pleasant. Not a festive mull. 10% mull. Medium sweetness and fruitiness. Drinkable. Sweet enough. Subtle.
Whole Foods Gourmet Mulling Syrup, £3.99
Eye-watering aroma. It’s burning my eyes. Huge mull in a good way. Traditional. High spice and really sweet. Strong berry flavour. A bit like port. Classy/rich person?
M&S Mulled Rose Wine, £6
Hot Lambrini. Ribena. Weird.
Harvey Nichols’ high-end mull was our clear winner, but at nearly £20 a bottle it’s an extravagant choice. Opt for Whole Foods’ mulling syrup instead. And head to Lidl if you’re bulk buying for a Christmas party.
Find out what we thought of this year’s Christmas sandwiches here.
Special shout out to our trusty adjudicator Ben Williams!
Kate Lloyd and Sonya Barber