Best German mulled wine or “Glühwein” recipe for cold winter nights
Nothing is cozier or more warming than a mug of hot German mulled wine, known in Germany as Glühwein. Popular at traditional German Christmas markets you can also buy it premixed outside of Germany, but if you want true depth of flavor and fresh spices, follow my Glühwein recipe to make the best mulled wine you’ve ever had.
Coming from a small town in Central California, hot mulled wine was not anywhere on my radar. Hot cider wasn’t even a concept. Then I went to Germany for a year at Heidelberg University and my concept of hot, wintry beverages was tossed upside down. I discovered the heartwarming, winter delight of “Glühwein,” or German-style hot mulled wine.
Oh boy did I…. On one student field trip to the Romantic Road area and the medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, renowned for its Christmas market, a fellow student and I wandered the snowy streets and Christmas market booths, breathing in deeply the smells of cinnamon, spice, wine and all that’s nice. The mission we had accepted was to taste-taste as many versions of hot German mulled wine as we could. I don’t remember the bus ride back to Heidelberg. But after that many warm cups of hot mulled wine at a festive German Christmas market, did you expect otherwise?
Christmas markets have always held a special place in my heart since that first year abroad in Germany, prompting bittersweet memories of sometimes wandering them alone as well as joyful memories of friendship and how I also became acquainted with the yum of roasted chestnuts at these markets. The perfect winter gander through a Christmas market of course includes nestling a paper cone filled with hot roasted chestnuts in your pocket while hugging a cup of hot German-style spiced mulled wine to your chest, warming your fingers and letting the smells of spiced red wine waft into your nose.
Certainly, over the years, European Christmas markets have expanded their menus of hot holiday drinks, but nothing beats a classic German-style hot spiced mulled wine, or Glühwein, to warm your fingers and of course the cockles of your heart, too.
No winter is complete at our house without a batch or two of hot mulled wine but buying a premixed bottle just wasn’t going to give me the depth of flavor and spices I remember. Meaning I had to come up with my own Glühwein recipe so I could drink up yummy spiced hot mulled wine whenever I wanted. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
German mulled wine or Glühwein recipe
Approximately 4-5 servings | Active prep time: 10 minutes | Simmer time: 20-30 minutes
Red wine, 1 750 ml bottle (Don’t get fancy, choose “red table wine”)
Port, either Tawny or Ruby (no need to buy anything pricy)
Orange, one medium
Lemon, 2 (Meyer or regular)
Sugar, ¼ cup
Cinnamon sticks, 4-5
Whole cloves, about 12-16
Whole allspice, about 12-16
Vanilla, 1 tablespoon
- Use a peeler to take thin strips of peel off the lemon. I use strips from one entire lemon. Once you have the strips, juice the lemons to make about 1/2 to ¾ cups juice.
- Use the peeler to take thin strips of peel off one medium orange. Optional: Slice a couple of full rounds and then cut them in half for semi-circles to add in to the liquid when you add the peel.
- Pour the entire bottle of red wine in a medium pan
- Pour in ¼ cup of port
- Add the lemon juice
- Add the sugar
- Toss in the lemon and orange peels (and slices of orange if you want), and the cinnamon sticks. (Note: I choose four sticks since then when serving four people, each person gets a stick in his or her mug!)
- Put your allspice and cloves in a small tea ball or cheesecloth. I prefer a metal tea ball to avoid any extra waste. Then hang it over the edge of the pan so the spices are submerged in the liquid.
- Cover and let warm VERY slowly on a VERY low heat. You do NOT want it to boil, but just get very hot or barely start to simmer.
- Remove from heat and add vanilla flavoring.
- Place one cinnamon stick and a semi-circle of orange in a mug.
- Top it with your hot German mulled wine (and don’t forget to eat the orange afterward, now flavored with mulled wine). YUM! (or, as Germans says, “Lecker!!!”)
*Note: The proportions in this Glühwein recipe are ¾ red wine to ¼ port so feel free to double the recipe or make other quantities, just also alter the amount of fruit, juice, spices, sugar and vanilla proportionately.
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