Nothing says it’s Christmastime quite like sipping that first cup of Glühwein. Especially while strolling among decorated booths at a German Weihnachtsmarkt on a cold winter’s night. Served in tiny mugs, it warms your toes, smells and tastes good and is Germany’s most loved and heart-warming holiday drink!
Glühwein literally translates into ‘glow wine,’ because of the way it makes you feel when you drink it and of the red irons used to heat the wine across the Germanic cultures when the drink first became popular hundreds of years ago.
The oldest documented appearances of Glühwein goes back as early as the 1400s to a German nobleman who was also the first grower of Riesling grapes. Even over all those years, recipes have remained the same. Glühwein is usually prepared from red wine, heated, and spiced with cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, citrus, star anise and sugar. Sometimes it is also drunk ‘mit Schuss’ or with a shot, where rum or some other form of liquor has been added to the Glühwein. In Nuremberg, blueberry wine is used instead of grape wine. Even children can enjoy a non-alcoholic version of Glühwein called Kinderpunsch or children’s punch at Christmas markets. It is a similar drink with the same spices.
Germans tend to keep it pretty basic when it comes to Glühwein. But you can always experiment a little by adding cardamon, vanilla, ginger, or even black pepper. In Sweden, Norway and Finland, people tend to also add blanched almonds and raisins to their version of the Glühwein. Since you drink the wine warm, be aware that the alcohol will go to your head extra quickly! Drink it when you have a designated driver or when you don’t have to go back out again. Those nights by the fire, wrapping presents and enjoying the spirit of the holiday season. It tastes so great and without a doubt makes the house smell Christmassy!
Glühwein Rezept or Recipe
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 orange
- 1 bottle or 750 milliliters of red wine
- 12 wholes cloves
- In a large saucepan, add water, sugar and the cinnamon stick.
- Bring to a boil, before reducing the heat and let it sit to simmer.
- Cut one orange in half and squeeze the juice into the simmering water.
- Slice the second orange in slices and push the cloves into the outside of the orange peel.
- Place the slices into the simmering water.
- Continue simmering for about 30 minutes until it is thick and syrupy.
- Pour in the wine, and heat until steaming. DO NOT BOIL! (You will burn off the alcohol.)
- Removed the clove-covered orange slices.
- Serve hot in mugs, cups or glasses.
It is also a great drink for New Year’s Eve!