To make spiced simple syrup: Combine orange juice and sugar in a medium saucepan, simmering over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add cloves, cinnamon sticks, and star anise and simmer until the liquid is reduced and starts to thicken.
Combine simple syrup with the wine: Reduce heat to medium-low and add red wine, being careful not to simmer or boil (which burns off the alcohol). Add liquor of choice (brandy or amaretto are great options), heating just below a simmer for about 15 minutes.
Serve the glühwein: Serve warm with an orange slice.
Heating tip: Keep warm for up to four hours over a low heat, but do not boil.
Notes: Be careful not to boil wine or else alcohol will burn off...and then it will just be juice. Keep glühwein warm during a party by placing in a serving dish over low heat (a hotplate works well for parties) for up to four hours.
Prep ahead: Combine mulling spices head of time (they also make great edible holiday gifts!); make spiced simple syrup up to a week ahead of time and reheat before making mulled wine.
Leftovers and storage: After cooling wine to room temperature, store in an airtight pitcher in the refrigerator for up to one week. Reheat over the stove until warm, but not boiling.
Nutrition notes: This holiday spiced wine recipe is a great low calorie celebratory drink. The added sugar is a traditional ingredient addition that only slightly sweetens the wine, however you could omit it and it would still be a delicious holiday party option.