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On first blush, the idea of German mulled wine may not sound like a taste treat. But call it “gluhwein” and place it in stalls under the glittering lights of the German Christmas markets or in kiosks in the town squares of Prague, and it takes on a completely different character.
Gluhwein (pronounced like GLUE-vine) is red wine served warm, combined with cinnamon, cloves, orange, and sugar. It can also be served mit Schuss – with a shot of brandy, rum, or other liquor. Any way you approach it, it’s hard not to love, especially when the thermometer dips for winter.
In the German Christmas markets, gluhwein is a staple sold at dozens of stands among the ornaments and nutcrackers. A mug of the good stuff costs about 5 euro (prices vary at different markets), which includes a deposit for the mug. You can take your mulled wine with you and savor it as you wander the aisles. Then return the mug to the next stand you see, and get your mug deposit back. It couldn’t be more convenient, and if you add bratwurst or lebkuchen (gingerbread) as a snack, it couldn’t be more delicious. Other cities in Europe feature gluhwein in stalls outside restaurants and pretty much every café and tourist attraction.
If you’d like to sample German mulled wine for yourself, try this recipe.
1 bottle (750 mL) of red wine, like Cabernet Sauvignon
2 cinnamon sticks
Whole cloves (6 or so – it’s not an exact science)
Whole allspice (4-ish, whatever floats your boat)
1 orange, peeled and juiced
Orange liqueur, brandy or port, if desired
½ cup sugar
Combine the wine, cinnamon stick, allspice, and orange juice (and optional liquor) in a pot on low heat – don’t let the wine boil, or I will cry. Stud orange peel with cloves and add to pot. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes or until you can’t stand to wait anymore. Add additional sugar to taste. DRINK!