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German Glühwein – (German Mulled Red Wine)

This German mulled wine is a classic Christmas beverage. Perfect for serving at dinner parties during the holiday season, enjoyed while wrapping presents, or simply on a cold day. This particular German glühwein recipe is spiced with cinnamon, oranges, cloves, and black tea. It’s guaranteed to get you into the holiday spirit, and make your home smell like Christmas!

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What is glühwein?

So what exactly is glühwein? While it may sound exotic, it is nothing more then red wine steeped with various whole spices. It is often also flavored with citrus and other ingredients. Since it is most often served warm or hot, glühwein is usually enjoyed on a cold winter day, and can often be found for sale at Christmas markets across Europe.

vertical image of two tall glass mugs filled with german gluhwein. the drinks are garnished with sticks of cinnamon and orange slices.

Depending on where in Europe you are, mulled wine beverages are called glogg(in Norway and Sweden), vin chaud (in France and Switzeland), or glintvein (in Russia and Ukraine).

The most popular spices used to flavor mulled wines include classic holiday flavors such as cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. Other ingredients are then added to create a variety of flavor variations. For example ingredients such as cranberries, raisins, brandy, black tea, and vanilla bean all make excellent additions.

Is there really a difference between ‘glühwein’ and ‘mulled wine’?

Since both names simply refer to ‘red wine gently cooked with spices’, there is no real difference between the two. One is simply the German term for it, while the other is the English. Of course there are many regional differences between recipes, so while German glühwein and mulled wine are technically the same beverage, individual recipes can vary and taste completely different based on their ingredients!

What is the best wine to use?

A dry, fruity, red wine is usually best. Wines such as a cabernet sauvignon, a merlot, pinot noir, or shiraz work well. You want to use a wine that is going to balance well with the spices, and citrus. Sweet wines can be used as well, you’ll just need to add less sugar to the recipe! I’ll be using a cabernet sauvignon, and tempranillo mix from Spain for this recipe.

You don’t have to break the bank either, just read the label and look for descriptions such as ‘fruity’, and ‘full-bodied’. Remember you’ll be pairing the wine with strong flavors such as cinnamon, and orange, and want the wine to complement the flavors you’re adding.

Does it have to contain alcohol?

Traditionally glühwein, recipes are all alcoholic. The alcohol content helps add to the warming effect, of the drink! In fact, some recipe call for a shot of brandy, or amaretto at the end to ‘fortify’ the drink. That being said, if you do cook the wine to long, or boil it, some of the alcohol may evaporate. This is why mulled wines should never be fully boiled, only warmed.

Alcohol free recipes

There are alcohol free versions of mulled wine, and many are geared towards children. Mulled apple cider makes a great alcohol free alternative too!

For this recipe we used:

This recipe is based on one my parents made growing up in North Germany. As such it could be considered a traditional glühwein recipe, and you’ll notice it may not be quite as sweet as other mulled wines.

  • 2 bottles of Solaz Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup freshly brewed black tea
  • 5-6 whole 3″ cinnamon sticks
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 whole orange sliced – as garnish
  • 1 cup white sugar – to taste
orange slices, a measuring cup of black tea, cinnamon sticks, and a dish of sugar displayed on a wooden cutting board

How to put it all together:

Once you’re sure you have all your ingredients, pour the red wine into a big pot and gently start to warm the wine. Make sure you use a stainless steel pot, not aluminum, as you don’t want to leach any flavors into the wine.

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Add the black tea, orange juice, and spices to the wine. It’s best to use freshly squeezed orange juice when possible. You can also add a few orange slices to increase the orange flavor as the wine mulls . Gently bring the wine to a low simmer, keeping the heat on low the entire time. It is best not to boil the wine as it heats and is infused with the spice flavors.

Using a slow cooker works quite well, and is an easy way to “set and forget” this mulled wine recipe without worrying about over heating it.

gluhwein mulling in an enameled pot with orange slices, cinnamon and cloves.

Stir the mulled wine occasionally and mull the wine for 20 to 30 minutes. Taste the glühwein to check for sweetness. Add some of the sugar to the glühwein to suit your personal tastes. You want to try and strike a balance between the sweetness of the drink and the tannins the black tea and wine add to the drink.

At this point the glühwein is ready to be served! Enjoy it hot, or at the very least warm! If you want an extra kick, you can choose to add a shot of brandy to the mulled wine to increase the alcohol content.

Two glass mugs filled with mulled red wine and garnished with cinnamon sticks and orange.

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Two glass mugs filled with mulled red wine and garnished with cinnamon sticks and orange.

German Glühwein – (German Mulled Red Wine)

Chef Markus Mueller
This German mulled wine is a classic Christmas beverage. Perfect for serving at dinner parties during the holiday season, enjoyed while wrapping presents, or simply on a cold day
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine German
Servings 6 servings
Calories 163 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 2 bottles dry red wine we used the Solaz Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup freshly brewed black tea
  • 5-6 whole 3" cinnamon sticks
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 whole orange sliced – as garnish
  • 1 cup white sugar – to taste

Instructions
 

  • Gather all your ingredients and steep the black tea.
    orange slices, a measuring cup of black tea, cinnamon sticks, and a dish of sugar displayed on a wooden cutting board
  • Add the black tea, orange juice, and spices to the wine. Gently bring the wine to a low simmer, keeping the heat on low the entire time.
    gluhwein mulling in an enameled pot with orange slices, cinnamon and cloves.
  • Stir the mulled wine occasionally and mull the wine for 20 to 30 minutes. Taste the glühwein to check for sweetness. Add some of the sugar to the wine to suit your personal tastes. Serve while warm!
    Two glass mugs filled with mulled red wine and garnished with cinnamon sticks and orange.

Notes

  • It’s best to use freshly squeezed orange juice when possible. You can also add a few orange slices to increase the orange flavor as the wine mulls.
  • It is best not to boil the wine as it heats and is infused with the spice flavors to prevent cooking out the alcohol.
  • Using a slow cooker works quite well, and is an easy way to “set and forget” this mulled wine recipe without worrying about over heating it.

Nutrition

Serving: 6ozCalories: 163kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 7mgPotassium: 124mgFiber: 1gSugar: 39gVitamin A: 93IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 24mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Glühwein, mulled wine recipe
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