Warm Up with a German Tradition: Glühwein Mulled Wine!

The Zeitgeist Blog

Warm Up with a German Tradition: Glühwein Mulled Wine!

German Christmas Tradition, Gluehwein, Mulled Wine, Holiday Parties

Most of the country is experiencing above-average temperatures this December, which is a welcome surprise after the bitter cold we had last year. While many of us our counting our weather-blessings, happily enjoying not having to double up on socks and layers each time we go outdoors, we also know how quickly the weather can shift. In no time, we can expect to be deep in the throes of winter. Don't be caught unprepared! When the weather gets chilly, few hot beverages are as satisfying as Glühwein. This traditional German mulled wine is a Christmas staple and served at wine stands throughout Germany's Christmas Markets. Perfect for chilly shoppers who need a little pick-me-up! The custom is growing more and more popular in the US and could be a great addition to your holiday party menu! 

Served hot (just below boiling point), Glühwein is a mulled red wine with aromatic spices that help give it a holiday scent that will waft throughout your entire house. This can also be served with an optional shot of brandy for a little extra punch.

Glühwein translates to "glow wine" in German but is popular in other countries as well. The beverage's history goes as far back as 500 BC. Herbs were consumed for medicinal purposes, so the spices and herbs were added to the wine both for health reasons and to improve the flavor of the wine. Now, it’s a German holiday staple, served on ski trips and at holiday parties in the winter.  

Looking to add this to your holiday party? Check out the recipe below. You can also find Glühwein at many gourmet grocery or liquor stores. If you decide to buy, go for Weinkellerei Gerstacker Nürnberger Glühwein which retails in between $6 - $9 per bottle. Just heat it up! 


2 medium lemons 
2 medium oranges 
10 whole cloves 
5 cardamom pods 
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar 
1 1/4 cups water 
2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks 
2 (750-milliliter) bottles dry red wine,
such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Beaujolais Nouveau 
1/2 cup brandy (optional)
Butcher’s twine 

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the lemons and oranges in wide strips, avoiding the white pith; place the zest in a large saucepan. Juice the lemons and oranges and add the juice to the pan. Place the cloves and cardamom in a small piece of cheesecloth, tie it tightly with butcher’s twine, and add the bundle to the saucepan. 

Add the sugar, water, and cinnamon sticks, place the pan over high heat, and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by about one-third, about 20 minutes. 

Add the red wine and brandy, stir to combine, and bring just to a simmer (don’t let it boil). Remove from the heat and remove and discard the spice bundle before serving. 


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