Jolly Good Gluhwein
Whether you call it ‘Vin Chaud’,‘Gløgg’ or ‘Glühwein’, enjoying a good old fashioned mulled wine is a fantastic way to warm yourself up on a cold winter evening. Particularly popular in German and French speaking countries around Christmas time, sweet and spicy Glühwein is a perfect go-to drink for when the weather’s chilly.
Over the years the recipe for mulled wine has evolved with the tastes and fashions of the time. Spiced wine has origins across many different cultures and some variations of mulled wine have been dated to as far back as Ancient Egypt, where it was considered to have had medicinal properties.
The Romans heated wine as early as the Second century and this seems to be where the Germans took their inspiration from and gave us the drink we now know as Glühwein.
Romantically named, the word Glühwein directly translates to ‘glow wine’ in English and was called this because of the red hot irons used to heat the wine. Many of the recipes have remained the same since the drink’s early days where a base of red wine was combined with popular spices. Those that needed their Glühwein to have an extra kick could also drink it “mit Schuss” by adding a shot of rum.
When making the perfect spiced wine you will need two things – wine and spice. I’m sure all food and wine aficionados out there are probably wondering which wine and what spices are the best to use to make a jolly good Glühwein. As a general rule, for a decent red Glühwein you want a dry or semi dry red wine. The perfect mulling wine is an inexpensive, inoffensive wine – try out an easy going merlot, shiraz, or another “middle-of-the-road” wine. Stay away from anything with very strong tannins or sweet flavours as the mulling process will only make these flavours more pronounced and they will start to become unpleasant.
When it comes to spices, flavours were traditionally gathered from whatever spice was available at the time. Thanks to super markets we’re spoilt for choice and can go for a classic spiced wine flavour in which the spices of choice are cinnamon, star anise, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom and a dash of orange. These flavours combine to create the delicious taste and aroma that we have come to associate with spiced wine. That said, these spices should be used with caution. Don’t go too overboard when adding, as the cooking process tends to make the flavours much more powerful – especially cloves and cardamom!
Here’s a helpful step by step guide so that you can make your own great tasting Glühwein at home this winter.
Step 1: Prepare your ingredients
Making a good Glühwein is actually super easy. One bottle of wine will serve 4 people so if you have more guests be sure to increase your quantities.
- 750ml Red wine (Merlot or Shiraz for beginners)
- 2 cloves
- 3 cardamom pods
- 2 star anise
- 4- 5 allspice seeds
- A pinch of ground nutmeg
- 1 cinnamon stick (whole, do not break apart)
- 1 orange – sliced
- Sugar to taste
Step 2: Making the Gluhwein
- In 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 Gluhwein through a fine strainer.
An important note to remember is that the alcohol will not actually cook off much during preparation so typically your Glühwein will have between 8% and 13% alcohol – be sure not to overdo it!
Step 3: Serve your Gluhwein
This is my favourite step! Serve your Glühwein piping hot with a gathering of good friends