Making mulled wine

Having mulled wine at your Christmas fair is almost a given. Read advice from PTAs on preparing, heating and serving this festive drink


Remember... you do need a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) for the sale OR supply of alcohol at an event. Giving away a free glass with each adult entry does not do away with the need for a licence.

Rachel Speller: Consumption on the premises needs a licence. Giving away full bottles for consumption off the premises does not require a licence.

Sally O’Donnell: Spot on Rachel, we did quite a bit of research when we set our PTA up, and that’s what we found too. If its a sealed bottle of wine in a hamper raffle prize etc, no licence, it’s the ‘intent to provide to consume on the premises’ that’s the issue that some people overlook.

Jeanne Clements: The cost of a Temporary Event Notice (which is what you would need) is something like £21 – the main thing is that you need to make sure you apply in plenty of time for it to be approved. The cost of the licence is minimal compared to the profit you could make!

Marc Brunel-Walker: I am a former chairman of licensing for a local authority and sadly too many people fall into that trap of thinking that giving it away for free means no licence. If you give a glass of mulled wine away with every ticket purchased, then unfortunately the Licensing Act still catches you. You need a Temporary Event Notice.

Ingredients and making it

Maurice Snell: We switched from making it from scratch to using pre-mixed bottles, eg from Booker – especially for our fireworks event this saved a lot of hassle. Booker accept any quantity of returns, so we can over-buy and be sure to never sell out.

Lydia Dewhirst Oliver: We added orange juice to lesson the booze content.

Sally O’Donnell: Mulled wine can be very strong if made totally with red wine, or even the bottles of pre-made mulled wine. I always use half red wine and half cranberry juice, it is much more palatable, and still tastes lovely and warming (plus its not quite as alcoholic and costs less to produce!).

Rachel Pearce: Ours is very popular – we make it with plenty of orange juice and give a free warm mince pie away with each glass. We ask parents to donate boxes of mince pies in the weeks running up to the fair so these don’t cost us anything.

Peter Foreman: Just don’t make it too sweet, Jamie Oliver’s recipe is quite good but cut out half the sugar.


Jeanne Clements: We make ours up in advance and then use a couple of slow cookers to keep it warm. We sell it for £1.50 per glass. The quantity is more difficult to guess – my only tip is that if you are buying it in bottles, don’t open them at all once. You could then sell the unopened bottles off at the end or some supermarkets do sale or return.

Nicola McCarthy: We buy ready-made from Co-op and heat in a giant soup urn. £1 a glass. School of 200 children. We never buy more than 8 bottles. Good luck!

Anna Hazon: We do ours in a tea urn, which keeps it warm!

Jo Clayton Hunt: We kept it in slow cookers. Kept nice and warm!

Kelly Armond: We bought bottles of mulled wine from Asda at £2.48 a bottle. It’s very drinkable and less fuss. We kept it on a hob very low in a big pot. Served it in small polystyrene cups. We charged £1.

Ellie Storey: We make it from scratch, heat it on the stove and then place it on one of those table warmers that you get in restaurants. We also have an electric ring. We serve it in plastic cups £2 each.

Where to buy mulled wine

Ellen Woodley: ‘We sold 24 bottles of Sainsbury’s ready-made mulled wine at a fireworks event on Friday – everyone loved it. One less thing to worry about and any leftovers were sale or return. We bought two bottles for £6 and got 25% off – result! We don’t have enough helpers to make our own as well as everything else!’

Katie Cora Lynne Ingram: ‘It’s easy to make! I’ve made it every year for years for the high schools Christmas carol service! Measures are approx:

  • Red wine about 2 bottles
  • Orange juice about 2 cartons
  • Lemonade
  • Ginger beer
  • Mulled wine sachets
  • Chopped-up fruit

Bung it all in a big pan and heat up.’

Jo Scammell: ‘Sainsbury’s is good and Ikea do a great non-alcoholic version.’

Julie Braithwaite: ‘Aldi is great went down well at our fair last year.’

Katie Owen: ‘Lidl – it’s the proper German stuff and on offer at the moment too.’


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