What is the best way to warm your soul on a wintry evening? Embrace the age-old Alpine drink known as Glühwein.
In this festive post, we show you step-by-step how to make Glühwein that will wow you and your guests. You’ll also discover how to drink this cozy libation (also commonly called mulled wine or spiced wine) to fully savor its season-pleasing aromas and flavors.
In a holiday hurry? Jump ahead to the recipe, click here: The Best Glühwein Recipe.
Glühwein is an especially delicious treat during the holidays. It wraps its arms around you and gives you a big, warm holiday hug just like that mall Santa did years ago.
But you do not have to wait for the holiday season to enjoy Glühwein. You will cherish it anytime there is a chill in the air whether it be summer, fall, spring or winter.
So where did Glühwein’s heart-warming qualities come from? The ancient Romans are thought to have been the first to concoct Glühwein. As they conquered Europe, they didn’t just leave behind ruins and nifty hairdos. They also left wine’s enduring splendor. Glühwein included.
The hardy folks in the Italian Alps, Austria and Germany took quite a liking to the sweetly spiced goodness of Glühwein. Its warmth and cheer-inducing potency made it a must-have when facing the icy bluster of the mountains.
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How to Drink Glühwein
Glühwein isn’t a drink that lights you up like a Christmas tree, but even the Ebenezer in your life can’t resist the merriment found in a steamy cup. Need proof? Serve it to him or her in a crystal glass mug. They will savor the spiced wine as if the Spirit of Christmas poured it himself.
Our recommendation is to use double-wall insulated crystal glass mugs. These not only perfectly preserve flavor and warmth they also add a classy touch to get-togethers with family and friends.
As we point out in the below directions, Glühwein is served hot and should be sipped slowly just as you would with a fresh cup of coffee. Of course, you do not have to splurge on crystal glassware to sip Gluhwein. A regular mug is a fine alternative.
How to Make Glühwein
Fortunately, you don’t need to raid Santa’s cellar to get your hands on this stuff. Follow these 5 simple steps to make Glühwein right in the comforts of your own home.
In less than 15 minutes, you can ease into your chair by the fire and mull over the wonders of mulled wine.
Step 1 – Find the Right Wine
Visit your local wine shop and pick up a bottle of red wine. Opinions vary on the best type with some opting for full-bodied reds like Malbec to others proclaiming bright and fruity reds like Pinot Noir work best.
We’re hopeless mountain lovers and also like to try to recreate authentic dishes. Therefore, we use Alpine reds, such as Lagrein or Vernatsch, from South Tyrol (commonly labeled as Alto Adige or Südtirol). Not only do these wines make Glühwein fit for a king, but they also pair exceptionally well with the Alps’ most hearty dishes. Note: These wines can be a bit harder to find depending on where you live so do not hesitate to use your favorite red if necessary.
Step 2 – Gather Your Sweets
Make sure you have the following Glühwein ingredients on hand at home: sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves and oranges. Yes, oranges.
Step 3 – Prepare the Ingredients
Grab a pot and prep the ingredients that you will be adding to it.
Traditional Glühwein requires ½ cinnamon stick, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 5 cloves and the peel of an orange (¼ to ½ of orange).
Step 4 – Make Stove Top Magic
Pour the entire bottle of wine into the pot (it’s okay to lick the cork), add the cinnamon stick, sugar, cloves and orange peel. Bring the wine to nearly a boil.
Note: For Santa’s sake, do not boil the wine! Doing so will reduce the alcohol content thus the amount of fun you’ll have by equal measure.
Step 5 – Begin Your Merry Journey
Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves with a fine strainer. Pour this conjuring of Christmas magic into cups and serve immediately.
Note: You can add rum or brandy to the Glühwein if you want to crank up the festiveness at your holiday gathering. But if sweetness is your greatest holiday weakness, honey is fine to add as well.
❄️ Bonus Step – Live Like Santa isn’t Watching
Repeat steps 1-5 as often as needed. Life is too short to deny the joy-inducing magic of Glühwein.
What to Serve with Glühwein
Don’t forget to serve some munchies along with your Glühwein. After all, what is a comforting libation without a partner in crime? Dark chocolate goes well with these warm elixirs brimming with spice and everything nice. It wonderfully counters the fruity sweetness of the wine.
Our go-to Christmas nibble also comes from the Alps: Loacker Quadratini Dark Chocolate bite-size Wafer Cookies. These delectable morsels of wafer-thin perfection are enrobed in the deepest, darkest chocolate and provide a satisfying crunch that’s just shy of audacious. Each one is like a love letter to your mouth, whispering sweet nothings in the universal language of chocolate.
When you pair these mini marvels with a goblet of Glühwein, you’ve given your guests the gastronomic equivalent of a warm blanket on a cold winter’s night. Fortunately, you do not have to trek into the heart of the Alps to get your hands on them. You can purchase Loacker’s dark chocolate goodies right here.
Feeling Fine with Glühwein
Enjoying Glühwein at home is an enticing way to take the chill out of any winter night. But more importantly, be sure to enjoy a cup or three while visiting a Christmas market. Drinking anything else would no doubt upset the Krampus lurking in the corner. Not a wise move.
If you want us to pick out a market for you, we highly recommend the largest Christmas market in Italy. You will love every feasting moment. In addition, you will be in the heart of the most spectacular mountains in the world: the Dolomites.
Nothing will make your Christmas grander than the sight of an alpine lake huddled between snow-blessed mountains. The Dolomites have no shortage of them. Consider a frosty frolic around Lake Carezza, Lago di Braies, and Lago di Dobbiaco near the iconic Three Peaks of Lavaredo. We also recommend a romantic carriage ride on Alpe di Siusi — Europe’s largest Alpine meadow.
By the way, if the thought of laboring in the kitchen to make another holiday treat sucks the season right out of you…don’t worry. Glühwein can be purchased at your local wine shop. Just warm it up and serve the gift that will keep on giving. And if you want to elevate the feeling of the Alps in your home even more, consider adding the Hugo Spritz to your festivities. It is a South Tyrolean original you will love to sip
Great and easy to prepare. Thank you for the recipe.
Kate & Vin says
You’re welcome Cris! Enjoy the wonders of Glühwein!
This sounds like the perfect drink for a cold Christmas night! I’ll have to give it a try!