Christmas & Glühwein: Perfect Partners

Christmas, Drink, Entertain, Holidays, Try This at Home, Wine

This post comes courtesy of Williams-Sonoma associate Steven Lauer.


What’s red, rotund, and overflowing with cheer? Santa, right?! No, but clearly you’re thinking “festive,” and for that you should be rewarded. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, red wine, like your dog, doesn’t care as long as you show up.


And, what better way is there than a warm, spiced red wine to relieve yourself from this season of shopping, cold, and snowy stress? (Gym memberships, yoga, and meditation aside.)


That question has a delicious additional answer and brings me to the story of Glühwein (pronounced as “glue-vine”). Also referred to Mulled Wine in the US and UK, the German version is called Glühwein (Glowing Wine) and is usually prepared from red wine such as Cabernet. The wine is heated and then spiced with cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, cloves, citrus and sugar. As I write that, my mind wanders to thoughts of Christmas trees, warm glowing lights, and listening to Nat King Cole singing “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire…” Christmas and Glühwein are perfect partners!


As the story goes, the Germans have the claim to first Glühwein. Its creation is attributed to a German nobleman by the grand name of Count John IV around 1420. The good Count was onto something because the wine has become a winter favorite across Europe’s seasonal Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmarkt) and parts of the US. What I simply love about this wine is that its warmth and spice make it a perfect partner for the holidays – best of all, you can make it at home!


Glühwein, or Mulled Wine


The magic of Glühwein is that you can alter the recipe for your own tastes. If you prefer a milder version, simply reduce amount of spices you add. Just take this recipe as a guide and then go in the direction that best suits your palate.


12 whole cloves

2 nutmegs, cracked into pieces with a hammer

2 bottles (each 750ml) dry red wine

1/2 cup sugar

Stripped zest from 2 oranges and 2 lemons, plus more zest for garnish

3/4 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 cinnamon sticks


Tie the cloves and nutmeg pieces in a small square of cheesecloth, or put them in a large metal tea ball.


In a large nonaluminum pot, combine the wine, sugar, orange and lemon zests, orange and lemon juices, and cinnamon sticks. Add the clove-and-nutmeg bundle. Heat over medium-low heat until steam begins to rise from the pot and the mixture is hot, about 10 minutes; do not let it boil. Remove the clove-and-nutmeg bundle. Keep the wine warm over very low heat until ready to serve.


Ladle the wine into cups or heatproof glasses, garnish with the citrus zest and serve warm. Serves 8 to 10.


Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Christmas Entertaining, by Georgeanne Brennan (Simon & Schuster, 2005).


About the author: Steven works in Williams-Sonoma’s corporate training department. He is a self-described refugee of the American Midwest who came to the Bay Area for work and has since fallen in love with the hearty red wines of Sonoma Valley. Steven balances his wine vices with mountain biking and running in California’s Marin County.

2 comments about “Christmas & Glühwein: Perfect Partners

  1. James

    This brings me back to the time I spent Christmas in Munich. I drank so much Glühwein it wasn’t even funny. Very tasty stuff. Thank you for bringing that memory back for me. I’ll have to try this for my family this Christmas.

  2. Hillary

    This sounds delightful… Definitely the best way to make it through the holidays!


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