In a few plain words, glühwein is a mulled wine — a wine combined with spices and typically served warm.
And those who have tried it know how to enjoy it: outside with friends on a wintry evening, when the air is crisp, daylight has gone early and a scent of cinnamon and cloves fills the air. When the drink’s sweet heat saturates your body, you know that Christmas is right around the corner.
Whatever the national name — Nordig Glögg, British mulled wine or Romanian Vin Fiert – glühwein has a long tradition. One of the oldest cookery books, “De Re Coquinaria,” of Ancient Rome, shows how to prepare “Conditum Paradoxum,” a spiced wine served hot. The Austrian versions are called “jager tea” and “punsch.” Though the latter actually originates from an Indian beverage made from sugar, spices and water, jager tea is an Austrian speciality prepared with rum and has become a popular apres-ski drink in the Alps. Fortunately, there are many versions of glühwein, even some without alcohol, so everybody can enjoy this seasonal drink.
Once the winter season has arrived, many people flock to the nearest Christmas market to enjoy a glass of glühwein. On average, a cup of glühwein costs €2, which doesn’t include the additional €2 “pfand,” or deposit, that is charged on each mug. The deposit is returned to you after you return the glass.
If you prefer to drink this treat at home, check out these recipes.
The simple and original version is quick and easy: Mix ¾ liter of red wine and ¼ liter of water, three cloves, two cinnamon sticks, and two pieces of star anise and heat it up slowly without boiling. Cut one lemon and ½ orange into slices and add them. Leave the heat on for one hour, then remove the fruits and spices and finally season it with sugar to taste.
This recipe can be adjusted to personal taste. Some people add one liter of water and one liter of red wine with ¼ liter brandy, two angostura bitters and one spoon full of cardamon, instead of star anise and lemon.
You can also purchase the pre-mixed glühwein and add a bit of rum and amaretto, seven cloves, two sticks of cinnamon and slices of orange.
Another option is to combine one liter of dry white wine with the contents of a vanilla stick, 50 grams of dried cranberries or sour cherries and four spoons of maple sirup.
For “kinder glühwein,” the non-alcoholic version for kids, there are also many versions: Mix 1.5 liter of fruit tea (e.g. cherry tea) with ¾ liter of grape juice, then add two cloves, a bit of cinnamon, two spoons of lemon juice and sugar.
If cooking isn’t your cup of glühwein, there is always help around the corner. Most supermarkets will offer bottles of glühwein with or without alcohol or “glühfix,” an infusion bag with a mixture of spices. Just heat the wine or juice, add the bag and let it simmer.
Finally, don’t forget to drink it outside; there is nothing like a warming cup of glühwein when it’s freezing cold outside.