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German Mulled Wine (Glühwein)

A warming, gently spiced mug of Glühwein, or German Mulled Wine is one of the great pleasures of Christmas and the winter months. It is simple to make at home and fills the whole house with the most incredible aroma!

If you’ve ever been to a traditional German Christmas market, you’ve almost certainly treated yourself to a big mug of German Mulled Wine or Glühwein.

This hearty drink is perfect for keeping any winter chill at bay and is ideal for gatherings over the holiday season.

Mulled wine is also super simple and economical to make at home, so keep reading for all the details!

Man in red sweater holding a mug of German mulled wine or glühwein.

What does Glühwein mean?

Glühwein simply translates as ‘Glow Wine’ and if you’ve ever imbibed a few mulled wines at a cold Christmas market, you’ll definitely understand the name! There’s nothing quite like a hot, spiced wine to warm you up from the inside out.

There is a good reason that every Christmas market in Europe is selling some variation at Christmas time. Whether you’re drinking Glögg in Scandinavia, Vin Chaud in France or Vin Brulé in Italy, everyone loves this delicious drink on a cold winter day.

How to make German Mulled Wine

Making Glühwein couldn’t be easier! You simply need to infuse the wine with spices like orange peel and cinnamon sticks and a little sweetener, then reheat and serve. 

I like to give mine a little extra kick by adding some rum or brandy, though it is optional.

German Mulled Wine Glühwein with orange slice, cinnamon stick bay leaves and nuts scattered around.

Ingredients

To make my Gluhwein recipe you’ll need the following main ingredients:

  • WINE: Don’t use your best wine for this recipe, a standard cheapish bottle will do just fine.
  • ORANGE: Use organic or unsprayed oranges for the best and tastiest results. The orange slices will be floating around in the hot wine so you want them as clean and pesticide free as possible! If using lemon zest or lemon slices, be sure to remove any bitter white pith.
  • SPICES: Traditional spices include whole cloves and cinnamon sticks. Mix it up and add different spices if you like. Cardamom pods or juniper berries give the hot spiced wine a really interesting flavour. Be sure to use whole spices as ground or powdered spices will give the drink an unpleasant mouth feel.
  • SWEETENER: Regular white Sugar, honey or brown sugar are all perfect in this recipe. Maple syrup is very tasty too!

The full ingredient list and instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.

Which wine should I use to make mulled wine?

Cheap stuff! Well, not the real gut-rot variety, but definitely not the top-shelf expensive wine. You’ll be masking the flavour of the wine with spices and sugar so don’t use anything too fancy.

As for variety, it’s best to stick with the standards, a merlot, pinot noir or cheap cabernet sauvignon or similar is best.

Can I make Glühwein without red wine?

  • Yes! I love white mulled wine and in Munich, it is known as ‘Heisser Bischof’ or ‘Hot Bishop’! To make white mulled wine simply use a non-oaked white wine variety and use clear honey or white sugar instead to sweeten.
  • If you‘re not a drinker try making the non-alcoholic version ‘Kinderpunsch’ with fruit juices instead. Apple juice, cherry or grape juice are all delicious, you’ll need to omit the added honey or sweetener as the juice is sweet enough.

What to serve with Gluhwein

Mulled wine is usually served standing up at the Christmas markets, so finger food is suitable. Roast pork in buns, German Bratwurst, or Flammkuchen is traditional.

Flammkuchen on a board.
A slice of Flammkuchen is always delicious with Glühwein!

PERFECT FOR A CHRISTMAS PARTY AT HOME

It’s great to make up a big batch of mulled wine for holiday gatherings. I like to put mine in the slow cooker on low heat which keeps it at just the right temperature.

I love Christmas cooking and over the years I’ve shared loads of recipes here on Days of Jay – click here to see more tasty Christmas recipes!


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I don’t drink alcohol! Can I make a non-alcoholic mulled wine?

Yes! You can either use an alcohol-free wine or use fruit juice and leave out the honey or sweetener.

Do I have to use these spices to make mulled wine?

These are the traditional spices, but you can change things up and add other aromatics like cardamom or allspice if you like.

Can I prepare Glühwein in advance?

Absolutely! Infuse it with the spices and allow it to cool completely before refrigerating. Bring the mixture to just under a simmer before serving.


A mug of Glühwein with spices and citrus..

German Mulled Wine Recipe

German Mulled Wine Glühwein

German Mulled Wine (Glühwein)

Yield: 800ml mulled wine
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

A warming, gently spiced mug of Glühwein, or German Mulled Wine is one of the great pleasures of the winter season.

My easy Glühwein recipe is simple to make at home and fills the whole house with the most incredible aroma!

Ingredients

  • 750ml (1 bottle) of red wine
  • 1 unwaxed orange
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 Tbsp honey or soft brown sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 star anise
  • 2.5 cm (1 in.) slice of fresh ginger
  • 2 fresh bay leaves (optional)
  • 75ml (⅓ cup) brandy or rum

Instructions

  1. COMBINE THE INGREDIENTS: Pour the wine into a large pot or saucepan. Give the orange a good scrub then cut it into quarters. Push whole cloves into the skin of each quarter (this saves fishing them out later) and add to the pan with the honey, cinnamon, star anise and ginger and bay leaves if using.
  2. HEAT AND INFUSE: Gently heat the wine bringing it nearly to a simmer. When the wine is very hot, but not yet simmering, remove from the heat, cover with a lid and leave to infuse for 20 minutes.
  3. REHEAT AND SERVE: To serve, reheat the wine until it is nearly simmering, stir through the rum or brandy and ladle into mugs.

Notes

IMPORTANT: Do not let the mulled wine boil! the high heat will burn off the alcohol and affect the flavour of the finished drink. Be sure to keep it over low heat, it should be very hot but not scalding.

If you'd like to stretch the wine a little you can add a small amount of water or orange juice to make more servings.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 mug
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 274Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 15mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 2gSugar: 14gProtein: 1g

Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.

If you enjoyed this recipe, please leave a star rating in the recipe card and share it using the buttons below so that others can find it too!


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Jay Wadams
Jay Wadams

Jay Wadams is a cookbook author and food photographer. Jay is the author of two cookbooks: 'Tasty' (2017) and 'Simply Summer' (2019). Based in Italy 🇮🇹 Germany 🇩🇪 and Australia 🇦🇺.

Articles: 293

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