I love a good party, and I especially love a good party punch. In summer, I typically stir up a sparkly bowl of sangria and in winter, I’m all about cozying up to a hot cocktail (like this festive cranberry-apple cider). Mulled wine often makes an appearance at my holiday parties and I never serve it the same way twice.
That’s the beauty of mulled wine—you can’t really go wrong as long as it’s sweetened, spiced, and heated. It’s a forgiving drink and open to experimentation, depending on what kind of spices you have in your kitchen. Sometimes I’ll make mulled wine like a hot sangria, with added chunks of apples or pears thrown in.
But perhaps one of my favorite versions is a European mulled wine called glühwein. A sip of this rich, fruity spiced wine brings me back to the first time I ever tried it a few years ago. I was standing on top of Mount Titlis in the Uri Alps in Engelberg, Switzerland, having ridden its famous revolving cable car up 7,000-plus feet.
As the highest peak of the range north of Susten Pass, Titlis towers above the snow line with freezing temperatures and permanent snow cover, even in summer when I went. I was chilled after checking out the views from the summit, and my nose led me inside one of the resort’s restaurants where a curious concoction called glühwein was being served. That fragrant, hot steaming mug set me right!
Related: 13 Cozy Scents That Make Your Home Smell Like Christmas
(And by the way, that’s not really my body with the snowboard… but I couldn’t resist a cheesy tourist photo opp with the cutouts!)
Glühwein is found all over Germany, Austria, and Switzerland at ski resorts and in stalls throughout the region’s lively Christmas markets (where it sits in seething cauldrons with oranges floating on top). I’ve since sampled a few different versions and now make my own at home, as close as I can get to the original.
In traditional glühwein, cinnamon and cloves are the usual spices but you don’t have to stay true to this recipe. I’ve also used bay leaves, cardamom pods, vanilla beans, and even added lemons to delicious success. The brandy is optional, but adds a nice kick; you can also try rum or whiskey.
It’s a drink that goes down easy, so I definitely recommend it as an apéritif to get your party started!
Makes 6 servings
2 (750 ml) bottles dry red wine
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup brandy
2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the wine, sugar, brandy, cinnamon, and star anise. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Using a knife or vegetable peeler, peel thin long strips from the oranges and reserve the peels. Slice each orange in half crosswise and squeeze the juice into the saucepan. Push the cloves into the remaining orange rinds and add the rinds and peels to the saucepan.
Adjust the heat so that the wine stays at a bare simmer. It should be hot and steaming, but never boiling. Continue warming the wine, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes to let the flavors mingle.
Remove the orange rinds, cinnamon, and star anise before serving. Serve warm.
Terri Bell EdenDecember 25, 2015 at 11:20 am
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gardenbettyDecember 24, 2015 at 9:01 pm
This European mulled wine will set you right. Glühwein: A Spiced Wine to Warm the Heart https://t.co/UqXZjcBTYU https://t.co/s0hcK29mkL
gardenbettyDecember 23, 2015 at 3:02 pm
Serve this at your holiday party this week! Glühwein: A Spiced Wine to Warm the Heart https://t.co/TYafSY1aMt #recipe
Rjf FarmsDecember 23, 2015 at 11:05 am
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gardenbettyDecember 23, 2015 at 9:03 am
First discovered in Switzerland, now made at home. Glühwein: A Spiced Wine to Warm the Heart https://t.co/aqalboNexa https://t.co/f7m4TWAVbX
gardenbettyDecember 22, 2015 at 6:01 pm
This mulled wine is found all over Germany, Austria & Switzerland. Glühwein: A Spiced Wine to Warm the Heart https://t.co/Usnj3rOH1Z #recipe
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gardenbettyDecember 21, 2015 at 12:02 pm
A hot cocktail that goes down entirely too easy. Glühwein: A Spiced Wine to Warm the Heart https://t.co/4MkOFHCCsh https://t.co/rF8ThKC8Qd
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SheilaDecember 21, 2015 at 7:37 am
I’ll have to give this a try. I have a collection of glühwein mugs from various German Christmas markets but so far, I’ve never been able to make it taste as good back here in SoCal. Thanks for sharing your recipe.
Linda Ly of Garden BettyJanuary 2, 2016 at 8:55 pm
That sounds like such a fun collection to have. 🙂 I hope you can recreate your favorite gluhwein at home based on this recipe!
Scotty ScottDecember 21, 2015 at 7:02 am
Had it many times in Germany! Especially good while walking through the Christmas Markets when it’s cold. We are fortunate the we can buy the Nurnberger gluwhein at the Air Force Base near where we live.
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Laura Kassler GainesDecember 21, 2015 at 6:50 am
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Carolyn HarveyDecember 21, 2015 at 6:24 am
Had this in Germany!!! yummy stuff
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gardenbettyDecember 21, 2015 at 6:00 am
Blogged on Garden Betty: Glühwein: A Spiced Wine to Warm the Heart https://t.co/ZvawQlpNvO