Gluhwein, German mulled wine, is a staple of German Christmas markets and brings back many memories for me. With gentle spices, it's wonderfully warming and perfect for colder weather.
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Gluhwein is the German term for mulled wine that you'll see in every Christmas market in Germany and Austria during December. It's also a regular on many cafe menus and naturally it's enjoyed at home, too.
For me, it was a staple when I was a student in Germany, often served with a slice of stollen on the side. It was the perfect way to properly warm up during the cold winter days, and wind down after studying.
The gently sweet, warmly spiced and warmly heated wine is also perfect for sharing at festive parties.
My parents have a bit of a tradition of going to the 'watchnight' service at the local church on Christmas eve - it goes by other names but it's the service that runs over midnight.
While I didn't go that often myself, I did sometimes join in with having a glass of gluhwein when they came back. Maybe with a cookie (like chocolate orange shortbread or German ginger cookies) on the side. It was a lovely way to welcome in Christmas without any of the excitement of presents as the little ones have now.
What wine is best for Gluhwein?
While you are adding some spices and a little sweetness to the wine, this is still a drink dominated by the wine itself so you want to make sure you choose a wine that fits.
I'd recommend a fruity, full-bodied wine such as a shiraz, or Italian wines like nero d'avolo or chianti. Cabernets and Spanish wines like rioja would also be good.
Tips for making Gluhwein
It's easy to make as all you do is put everything in a pan and gently warm it over a medium-low heat. That's it. I'd highly recommend getting whole spices for this. Ground spices are harder to strain out so you can get a grainy drink.
The only important thing to remember is to just warm it - don't boil. Be a little patient, and the spices will gently infuse and do their wonder.
Does mulled wine contain alcohol?
Alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature than water, so some of the alcohol will generally boil off from the wine as it is heated. However it will still have some alcohol in it so is not alcohol-free.
Gluhwein is relatively simple, but such a wonderfully warming drink that's synonymous with this time of year for me. But even without those memories, it's something you should try and make a part of your own winter traditions.
Try these other warm cocktails:
- Spiked mulled apple cider
- Warm spiced cranberry cocktail (or mocktail)
- Warm pomegranate punch
- Plus get more cocktail recipes in the archives.
Gluhwein - German mulled wine
- 1 cup red wine 240ml, approx ⅓ bottle
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 5 cloves
- 3 pieces orange rind
- 1 tablespoon sugar plus a little more to taste, as needed
- 2 tablespoon orange juice
- 2 tablespoon water
- Put all of the ingredients in a small pan and warm over a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Warm until it is steaming and reduce the heat - you ideally want to warm it at least 10 minutes, but nearer 20 is better, so the flavors infuse and sugar dissolves. Don't let it boil.
- Remove the spices and orange rind from the pan and serve warm, topped with orange slices if you like, adding a little more sugar or honey to taste.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
Plus get more cocktail inspiration:
- Cranberry Moscow Mule by Restless Chipotle
- Ginger Caramel Apple Mule by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Mincemeat Manhattan by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Mulled Cranberry Vodka Cocktail by Food Lust People Love
- Snow Honey Cocktail by Our Good Life
- Sugar Plum Martini by Pies and Plots
- Apple Cider Sangria by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Christmas Party Punch by Palatable Pastime
- Cranberry Champagne Cocktail by The Freshman Cook
- Rosemary and Blood Orange Sangria for a Party by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks