German Christmas Wine: Authentic Glühwein Recipe

Published September 13, 2022
Happy young couple drinking gluhwein at Christmas market

When the days get shorter and the Christmas holiday is nearing, there's nothing cozier than snuggling up to a fireplace with a teeny tiny mug of warmed Glühwein infused with aromatics. This fragrant mulled wine brings the warmth of the holiday season straight to your palate.

What Is German Christmas Wine?

If there's one thing the northern Europe countries do better than anyone else, it's winter. The different cultures embrace the cold, dark season with a plethora of candles, warm fresh buns from the oven, saunas, and mulled wine. Each country and region have their own variations of the holiday drink. In Germany, the mulled wine is called Glühwein, which translates to glow wine. Traditionally served at the famous German Christmas markets, Glühwein is a festive symbol of the holiday season that warms you up from the inside out.

People holding mulled wine and enjoying winter

Making Glühwein at Home

Replicating this holiday drink at home is pretty easy and makes for a cheerful little treat to pass around to your guests at your holiday party or sip while curled up with a good book. Traditional Glühwein is pretty simple, but you can take the idea of this mulled wine and run with it, adding your favorite warm spices like cardamom, ginger, vanilla, cinnamon sticks, or orange slices.

To start, look for a dry red wine without overtly strong tannins. Since you'll be heating the wine, avoiding tannic wines or wines that have been aged in oak will eliminate it from developing off-flavors. A full-bodied, red and black fruit forward wine like merlot, dornfelder, trollinger, zweigelt, or zinfandel are great choices for Glühwein.

Warm the wine up in a pot with your chosen aromatics but don't ever bring it to a boil. You want it so simmer and become infused with the additions without actually cooking the wine. You can also add a splash of hard liquor for an extra glowy glow-wine. Rum or amaretto are the best candidates. This optional addition is added at the very end to top off your glass.

German Glühwein Recipe

A mulled wine that will transport you straight to the festive German Christmas markets, giving you a warm embrace and rosy cheeks as you sip. This recipe makes about eight 4-ounce servings.

Gluhwein wine with oranges and cinnamon in a saucepan

Ingredients

  • A knob of fresh ginger
  • 1 orange
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 20 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle dry red wine
  • Amaretto or rum to top off a glass (optional)

Instructions

  1. Peel the fresh ginger and discard the skins. With the flat side of your knife, take your palm and apply pressure to crush the ginger root. Set aside.
  2. With a vegetable peeler, make long strips of orange peel, avoiding the white pith, and set aside. Cut the orange in half, juicing one of the half and set the juice aside.
  3. In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil until the sugar has completely dissolved. Reduce the heat and add the cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, half the reserved orange peels, the orange juice, and the knob of ginger. Simmer until the aromatics become fragrant and the sugar water starts to thicken slightly into a syrup.
  4. Reduce to the heat to low and add the red wine. On the lowest setting, simmer for 30 minutes to 2 hours. The longer you take it, the more spiced the wine will be.
  5. Strain and serve in small glass mugs, adding a splash of amaretto or rum to finish it off and garnish with a curl of orange peel.

Cozy Up With Glühwein

This iconic winter drink is the perfect thing to sip on those chilly nights leading up to the holiday season. Make a batch for your next gathering; the warming spices will infuse the air in your kitchen with the cozy Christmas spirit.

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German Christmas Wine: Authentic Glühwein Recipe