Winter’s Sangria: Red Wine Hot Chocolate

red wine hot chocolate

Hot chocolate has long been a household essential for combatting the cold weather during the holidays.

Holiday drinks in front of a fireplace is the perfect activity for a holiday get-together. Whether it’s family or friend oriented, it’s important to have a variety of drinks on hand to make sure everyone is accommodated.

Now, cocoa or hot chocolate is great for the young ones and those who don’t want to over-caffeinate; however, there is always a guest that wants a little schnapps or Bailey’s Irish Cream to add a liquid blanket of warmth (and who can blame them?). For those in the latter category, we have a new mulled wine alternative for your boozy winter nights: red wine hot chocolate–a perfect drink addition to the season of celebration.

Choosing Your Wine

Since mulling wine will disguise much of the delicate flavors of the original wine profile, using a more expensive pinot noir or gamay blend isn’t worth the extra money. We recommend going with a red blend such as syrah or a malbec, something that’s cheaper but still full-bodied. You could also choose to go down the white wine path, where you’ll want an aromatic Riesling or Moscato type.

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Choosing Your Cocoa

Choosing your cocoa can make or break your red wine hot chocolate creation, although admittedly only for the sake of personal preference. Let’s admit it, some people like their drinks to be extra sweet, and some like them well-balanced. Using a high quality chocolate, such as Ghirardelli’s unsweetened cocoa powder, will assure a perfect balance since cheaper cocoa versions tend to taste watered down and don’t mix as well with wine. Even though Ghirardelli’s cocoa powder is rich, it’s unsweetened–so, if someone wants it sweeter all they need to do is grab a spoon of sugar and stir away.

Getting Started

This recipe, courtesy of Home Cooking Adventure, makes about one to two servings, so add or subtract proportions as you will.


  • 3 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 cup milk
  • pinch of salt
  • cinnamon sticks (optional)
  • whipped cream (optional)


Bring your wine to a simmer over low heat, adding any mulling spices you’d like. Keep in mind that alcohol burns off around 173 degrees. So, if you don’t have a way to check the temperature, heating the wine first will only reduce the alcohol level. You could also add the wine over the cocoa and milk mixture, and bring everything to a boil if preferred.

Meanwhile, combine your cocoa powder with sugar and salt in a separate bowl. Add a splash of milk and stir well to combine. Then, add the rest of the milk, stir well, and pour over the wine. Whisk (or stir) while bringing to a light boil.

Once it reaches your desired temperature, pour into your favorite mugs, garnish with whipped cream and cinnamon sticks, then indulge in your new favorite holiday drink!

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