Germany has a long tradition when it comes to Mulled Wine. The oldest documented Glühwein tankard dates back to 1420. It belonged Count John IV of Katzenelnbogen who is said to be the very first vintner to ever have planted the Riesling grape on a large scale. Glühwein is the traditional German Christmas drink. It’s not only sold on every Christmas-market but also cooked a home.
1) Traditional Glühwein
Traditional Glühwein is based on red wine. Usually a very young and fruity wine is used to produce Glühwein. The wine should not have more than 12% or 12.5% alcohol by volume. Citrus, cinnamon sticks, cloves and star aniseed are the most important spices for traditional German Glühwein. Depending on how strong you want your Glühwein you have to add Orange juice. If you want to try Glühwein at home then follow these simple instructions: Heat 0,75 liters of red wine and 0,25l of orange juice in a pot. But be careful – don’t let it boil! Cut 1/2 orange and 1 lemon into slices. Add them together with 3 cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks, and 2 star aniseed to the wine. Let everything cook for around 15 minutes but once again don’t let it boil. Use a colander to separate the Glühwein from the spices and serve it in tankards. Of course this is just one of many possible ways to prepare Glühwein and there is no right or wrong recipe. Just make sure that it tastes like Christmas!
2) White Glühwein
A few centuries later some Germans wondered how Glühwein would taste if they would use white wine instead of red wine. Best way to find out was to try it. Today white Glühwein is almost as popular as the traditional one. The recipe is pretty much the same. The wine should be a young, fresh white wine. A fruity Riesling might be your best best. Add the juice of 2 mandarins, 2 lemons and 1 orange to the wine. Depending on your taste you can add a little bit of apple juice. Cut another orange into slices and add it together with 2 stern aniseed, 2 cinnamon sticks and 2 cloves to the pot. Heat the mix for 10-15 minutes but don’t let it boil. Separate the wine from the spices with a colander.
3) Stronger Styles
You like Glühwein but are of the opinion that it’s not strong enough? Or are you looking for something that heats your body up? Then try “Glühwein mit Schuss”. Glühwein mit Schuss literally translates to mulled wine with shot. The shot is usually white Rum. German Christmas-markets often offer this variety of Glühwein next to the white and red Glühwein. When making Glühwein mit Schuss at home simply add as much white Rum as you want in the pot. Proceed then with one of the above recipes.
Last but not least there is the famous German Feuerzangenbowle. It’s rather complicated to make since you need a special bowl to prepare it which is similar to a fondue set. It’s fun to prepare and tastes delicious. The bowl gets filled with red wine and spices – much like traditional German Glühwein. A bowl should hold at least 2-3 liters of Glühwein. A pair of tongs holding a large sugar loaf is placed on top of the bowl. The sugar loaf is soaked with strong white rum that has at least 70% ABV and is then set alight. The sugar will now slowly melt an fall in the bowl. One of the secrets of the Feuerzangenbowle is to never extinguish the flame therefore more and more rum gets poured on the sugar loaf until it’s completely melted. Afterwards the drink gets served in traditional tankards.
I hope that these recipes will encourage you to try to cook Glühwein at home. It’s easier than you think and it tastes very good. Should you have any questions about Glühwein then feel free to ask them in comment section below. I’ll try to answer them. If you’ve made Glühwein or Feuerzangenbowle at home then let me know how you liked it! By the way Glühwein is best served with traditional German Lebkuchen. Lebkuchen are similar to Gingerbread.