How to Make German Gluhwein

German Gluhwein is the name given for wine mulled with spices that is served warm. As weather grows colder, Gluhwein is a warm spicy treat that is great for gatherings with family and friends, or even just sharing a couple glasses on a cold night while watching TV. Mulled wine sounds like a lot of work, but it's actually quite simple, and easily scale-able!

A Bit of History

gluhwein available at christmas markets in EuropeGluhwein is actually  an integral part of the holiday shopping experience in Germany, where shoppers use it to warm up while browsing the vast outdoor Christmas Markets in the city squares. The first Christmas markets took place in Nuremberg Germany, as far back as 1545. Since then, they have sprung in at least 30 countries across Europe, including Belgium, France, and the UK. In 1996 Chicago also began it's own annual Christmas Market.

Traditionally, it's made with red wine. However you can use a white wine like Riesling to make a Mosel style Gluhwein. Mosel Style was originally served in this cities along the Mosel River. Due to the popularity of the beverage overall, you'll likely find both styles at any Christkindlesmarkt you find yourself attending.

But don't worry if you can't make it across the Atlantic (or to Chicago) to get a mug of this holiday treat, you can make your own Gluhwein tonight! Here's how.

What Goes Into Making Gluhwein?

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Minus the type of wine-grapes used, they use the same recipe, so feel free to use what you prefer with the instructions below.

If you are planning to make your own wine to turn into Gluhwein this year, a basic Merlot should be ready in time for the holiday season.

Your recipe will vary by personal preference, so fee free to subtract any ingredients below to your liking. You can also add more or use less. The key is to use at least one spice and one slice of lemon or orange, otherwise you're just heating up wine.

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients

You'll want to gather up all your ingredients before you begin to make things easy. Use as many or as few as you wish when making yours, but remember, at least one fruit and one spice. The amounts below are for 2 mugs of Gluhwein, so scale accordingly.

Required Additions:
• Half a Bottle of Wine (red for traditional style, white for Mosel style)
• 2 Cloves
• 1 Cinnamon Stick (whole, do not break apart)
• One Slice of Orange or One Slice of Lemon
• Sugar to taste

Optional Additions:
Cardamom pods
• Star Anise
• All Spice
• Nutmeg
Vanilla Bean

Step 2: Prepare Your Gluhwein

steeping ingredients for gluhweinIn a Saucepan, add your wine, desired spices, and fruits. Raise the heat to just below a simmer and do not let the wine come to a full boil. Once at temperature, let everything stew together for 30-45 minutes.

After the steeping is complete, strain out the spices and fruits by pouring the Gluhwien through a fine strainer. You can also place the ingredients in a hop bag beforehand, and just remove the bag.

If you are serving this for a larger gathering, you can make it in a crock-pot. Just follow the above steps, but leave the crock-pot on low to keep the beverage warm throughout the occasion.

Step 3: Serve Your Gluhwein

Serve the spiced wine in mugs that can handle heat (ie, coffee and tea cups). Garnish with a cinnamon stick, and add sugar to sweeten to your individual tastes. You can also fortify it with port wine, brandy, or Amaretto.

If you are using the crock-pot method, just let your guests ladle their own and supply the bonus additions (sugar, cinnamon sticks, extra boos) nearby to add as they desire.

Remember that a big holiday coffee mug that's more suited to hot chocolate likely holds a lot more liquid than a wine glass. So it's easy to find yourself drinking a couple glasses of wine per serving, and with how tasty this is, you may be quite inebriated before you know it.

finished gluhwein

by David Doucette
David is a full blown fermentation enthusiast who has dedicated much of his free time to learning and sharing the art of homebrewing. He's spent several years documenting and writing homebrewing information on his blog Hive Mind Mead. He's written over 60 articles between Homebrew Talk and Homebrew Supply.


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written by David Doucette

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