The presents are all unwrapped and the Christmas decorations stowed away for next year, but there’s one tradition that I want to continue all winter long.
It’s called Glühwein—pronounced glooh-vine—and it is the German version of what we call mulled wine—red wine with spices and citrus fruits added to it. Sometimes it has other spirits added, such as brandy or bourbon.
It seems like the perfect drink for winter: hot, comforting, lightly spiced, and lovely to look at. And, it seems doubly perfect now when Colorado is getting the first of several mini-storms and bitter cold temperatures.
Hand your dinner guests a cup as they enter your home and they know they’re in for a good evening. That’s what the Viking River Cruise chef did each night when we returned from touring a different Christmas market each day. Granted, it was a small cup but what a “welcome home” touch!
In Germany, glühwein was served at all of the outdoor Christmas markets. People walked around with a cup in their mittened hands as they shopped, both warming their hands and their hearts. The other interesting thing was that each booth served this drink in different-shaped cups and the idea (at least for tourists like us) was to buy both the cup (as a souvenir to take home) and the drink. See the cup I bought in Nuremberg in the photo.
There are many ways to make glühwein and you probably have recipes for mulled wine in your cookbooks. The version served on the Viking ship had different spirits (e.g., bourbon) added to it on different nights.
See this easy recipe (without additional spirits) from Sunset magazine that comes from an alpine bistro in Aspen, Colorado. The only unusual ingredient in this recipe is the juniper berries, which can be found at kitchen stores or natural food stores (or omit, if you like).
I like to serve the wine in glass cups so you can enjoy the lovely color, but use whatever cups you have. If you’re serving it a party, keep it in your slow cooker so it stays warm throughout the party. Or, keep it in the fridge and reheat just as much as you need, when you need it. It’s naturally gluten-free and a wonderful way to warm up those cold winter nights.