In the Czech kitchen: Prague sommelier's recipe for making mulled wine at home

Roman Novotný from Prague wine bar Bokovka tells us how to make classic Czech svařák at home; plus a flavored-syrup recipe from Eska.


Written by Ambiente Published on 06.12.2023 13:05:00 (updated on 10.12.2023) Reading time: 4 minutes

What are the essential components of a well-made mulled wine (svařák or svařené víno) recipe? A blend of spices, fragrant syrup, and a dash of well-aged brandy. To uncover the secrets of crafting the perfect mulled wine we asked the pros at Prague wine bar Bokovka for their insights and tips.

When it comes to mulled wine, the balanced fusion of spices, hints of fruit and caramel, and the lingering warmth of spiced alcohol truly come to life. Enhance the taste of mulled wine by adhering to a few guidelines – most important among them selecting the appropriate type of wine and maintaining the appropriate temperature.

Red or white? And don't overlook the box

According to sommelier Roman Novotný from Bokovka, "Both white and red wines are suitable for mulled wine, as long as they possess lower acidity, rich fruit flavors, and fewer tannins. It should be of good quality, but it doesn't necessarily have to be one of the most expensive. I recommend exploring larger bag-in-box options, which provide five liters of wine."

Many sommeliers opt for varieties like Pinot Noir or Merlot. Bartender Rudolf Forman from Brno’s Bar, který neexistuje, explains his choice of Frankovka, saying, "We selected Frankovka for its fruity, predominantly cherry notes. Despite having more pronounced tannins, they contribute to keeping the brew fresher for a longer duration. Moreover, the taste and aroma of Frankovka include cinnamon, which is essential."

Mulled wine

The key to the success of mulled wine lies primarily in the foundation of fresh spices. Ingredients such as cinnamon, cloves, anise, cardamom, star anise, as well as nutmeg, juniper, coriander, ginger, vanilla, or pepper are prepared separately and in advance. Novotný stresses the importance of cooking the spices.

Many people simply add the spices to the hot wine and allow it to infuse. But that's not enough! The crucial step is to create a broth with caramelized sugar."

Novotný goes on to say, "The proper method involves not cooking the wine but rather the spices. The decoction is then mixed into the wine, which should be heated to a temperature ranging from 60 to 78 degrees Celsius. Boiling the mixture can lead to the evaporation of alcohol and, to some extent, the flavor and aroma of the spices. Higher temperatures can also alter the flavor profile of the wine."

recipe Mulled wine à la Bokovka

For 1½ liters of wine


  • 8 cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 pieces of star anise
  • 150 g of sugar or honey
  • 2 bottles of wine (Pinot Noir or Merlot are suggested)
  • A spice sachet made from muslin or cheesecloth


  • 1.Place the cloves, cinnamon, and star anise in sachet.
  • 2.In a large saucepan, bring 200 to 300 ml of water to a boil and stir in 150 g of sugar or honey. Allow to caramelize slightly.
  • 3.Place the spice sachet in the saucepan and cook for 15 minutes. Cool to about 50 degrees Celsius. If you don't have a thermometer, your sense of smell should tell you when the wine has reached its fragrant peak; you should be able to drink the cooled decoction without burning your mouth and (or finger) when you test the liquid.
  • 4.Top up the spiced broth with wine and heat slowly. When foam appears, remove the mulled wine from heat and serve.
  • 5.To serve, add a slice of orange and garnish with raisins, dried plum, or other sticky fruits.

RECIPE Caramel-citrus syrup from Eska

At Eska they serve their mulled wine with 30 ml of a special homemade caramel and citrus syrup (per mug with 150 ml of wine). To take your mulled wine to the next level, give it a try at home.


  • 1 kg caramelized sugar
  • 1 l of water
  • 25 g star anise
  • 20 g cloves
  • 30 g whole cinnamon
  • 10 g allspice
  • Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange

All the peels: The leftover orange and lemon zest, which marinated overnight in caramel-spice concoction, is like candied fruit. The soft slices are easy to cut into smaller pieces, dry, and use in biscuit dough and Christmas cake, or roll in melted chocolate and eat straight away when chilled.


  • 1.Melt the sugar into caramelizes into a brown (not burnt!) caramel and then gently stir into the water.
  • 2.Add the coarsely crushed cinnamon, cloves, star anise, whole allspice balls, and orange and lemon zest.
  • 3.Cook over a low heat until the caramel dissolves in the water, about 15 minutes.
  • 4.Remove the pot from the stove and cover with a lid. Let it cool and macerate at room temperature for 24 hours.
  • 5.Strain the finished syrup and funnel it into a bottle, letting it cool before using, ideally in the fridge.
Mulled wine
Mulled wine

chefs tips for the perfect mulled wine

  • Watch the time: Cloves, cinnamon, and other spices shouldn't be cooked for too long, lest they turn bitter. This also applies to citrus zest (from non-chemically treated oranges, lemons, or limes), which is commonly stirred into a base of spices and sugar, just like citrus juice.
  • Eliminate pulp: For fruit that has been in the brew for a long time, peel it carefully and remove the thin white skins. These could give the wine a bitter taste.
  • Select fruits with care: Traditionally, red wine is paired with berries, while white wine goes well with apples or perhaps dried apricots.
  • More than mulled wine: Stir the unfinished beverage into cake batter or (chocolate) muffin batter. Cold mulled wine (and punch) can be used as an aromatic base for Christmas cocktails.

In the Czech Kitchen is a weekly column written in cooperation with the culinary experts from Ambiente. Established in 1995, the Prague-based collective of pubs, restaurants, and fine-dining outlets has transformed the Czech culinary landscape and lent to the widespread awareness of quality food service and production in Czechia. Follow their socials or book your table at

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