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Gluhwein – German Mulled Wine

4 Mins read
nuts fruits black background with wine

You’ve heard of mulled wine, but have you tried Gluhwein? This traditional German version’s guaranteed to warm you up on even the chilliest winter nights.

You’ll learn its rich history, how to pick the perfect ingredients, and even how to give it your own personal twist.

Get ready to impress your guests at your next holiday gathering with a delicious, aromatic pot of Gluhwein.

Let’s dive into the world of this festive beverage!

The Origins and Tradition of Gluhwein

You’ll find the origins and tradition of Gluhwein deeply rooted in German culture, making it more than just a holiday beverage. It’s believed that the Romans introduced the concept of heating wine during the cold months, which gradually evolved into what you know as Gluhwein, or ‘glow wine’.

Traditionally, you’ll find it at Christmas markets, warming hands and hearts alike against the winter chill. It’s made by mulling red wine with a mix of spices like cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and citrus. Often, it’s sweetened with sugar or honey. You’re also given the option to ‘mit Schuss’—add a shot of rum or brandy for extra warmth!

Selecting the Right Ingredients for Gluhwein

Choosing the right ingredients for your warm, spiced drink is crucial to achieving that authentic festive flavor. You’ll need a good quality red wine, not too sweet, not too dry. Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot would work perfectly.


Then, gather your spices. You can’t make Gluhwein without cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and star anise.

Don’t forget the citrus! A couple of oranges and lemons will do the trick.

You’ll also need some sugar, but don’t go overboard. Remember, you can always add more later if it’s not sweet enough.

For that extra kick, consider adding a splash of brandy. It’s not traditional, but it’s a welcome addition.

Step-by-Step Recipe to Make Perfect Gluhwein

Now that you’ve got your ingredients, let’s walk through the steps to create that perfect warm, spiced drink.

Start by pouring your chosen red wine into a large pot. Don’t crank up the heat too high; you’re looking to warm it up, not boil it.

Next, add in your spices – cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise.

Now, it’s time for your fruit. Slice up an orange, and toss that in.

Let it all simmer together for about 20 minutes. Remember, patience is key.

Once it’s done simmering, strain out the spices and fruit.

Your Gluhwein is ready to serve. Pour it into mugs and enjoy.

You’ve just made a delicious batch of traditional German mulled wine.

Pairing Suggestions for Gluhwein


When it comes to enjoying your freshly made spiced drink, it’s important to consider what foods might pair well with it. Gluhwein, in particular, is quite versatile. Its spiced, sweet, and warm notes make it a great match for a variety of dishes.

Consider pairing your Gluhwein with hearty, spicy, and rich foods. Traditional German foods such as bratwurst or pretzels can be excellent choices. The robust flavors of the sausage and the saltiness of the pretzels nicely complement the wine’s sweetness.

You might also try it with spicy dishes; the heat from the food can enhance the wine’s warm spices. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, dark chocolate is a brilliant match; the bitter notes balance the wine’s sweetness perfectly.

Enjoy your Gluhwein with food pairings that heighten your taste experience.

Unconventional Twists to Classic Gluhwein Recipe

You’re not limited to the traditional recipe, as there are plenty of creative twists you can add to spice things up. Instead of red wine, why not try white? White wine gives your Gluhwein a fruitier edge. Or, how about adding a shot of rum or brandy for a robust kick? You could also experiment with spices.

Think beyond the conventional cinnamon and cloves; star anise, cardamom, and black pepper can work wonders.

Now, if you’re keen on a non-alcoholic version, simply replace the wine with grape or apple juice. And don’t forget the sweeteners! You can switch out the sugar for honey or even maple syrup. Remember, it’s your Gluhwein, feel free to get creative. The key is to make it your own.

top view mulled wine with star anise 1


top view mulled wine with star anise 1


You've heard of mulled wine, but have you tried Gluhwein? This traditional German version's guaranteed to warm you up on even the chilliest winter nights.


  • 1/2 medium orange
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup turbinado or granulated sugar
  • 20 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine
  • Rum or amaretto for serving (optional)


  • Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the orange in wide strips, taking care to avoid the white pith; set aside. Juice the orange and set the juice aside.
  • Combine the water and sugar in a large, nonreactive saucepan and boil until the sugar has completely dissolved. Reduce the heat and add the cloves, cinnamon, star anise, orange zest, and orange juice. Simmer until a fragrant syrup forms, about 1 minute.
  • Reduce the heat further and add the wine. Let it barely simmer for at least 20 minutes but up to a few hours. Keep an eye out so that it doesn’t reach a full simmer.
  • Strain and serve in small mugs, adding a shot of rum or amaretto and garnishing with the orange peel and star anise if desired.



How Long Can I Store Gluhwein After Making It?

You’re wondering about storage duration, aren’t you? Once you’ve made your spiced beverage, it’s safe to store it in the fridge for about 3-5 days. It’s best when consumed fresh, though.

Is There a Non-Alcoholic Version of Gluhwein That I Can Prepare?

Yes, you can prepare a non-alcoholic version of mulled wine. Simply replace the wine with grape or cranberry juice and follow the same spices infusion process. It’s perfect for those who prefer alcohol-free beverages.

Are There Any Specific Festivals or Occasions in Germany Where Gluhwein Is Traditionally Served?

Yes, there are. You’ll often find Gluhwein being served during Germany’s famous Christmas markets. It’s also popular during other winter festivities as it’s a warm drink that helps combat the cold weather.

Can I Reheat Gluhwein, and if So, How Should I Do It to Maintain Its Flavor?

Yes, you can reheat it. Just ensure you don’t boil it, as it’ll lose its flavor. Warm it slowly on low heat. Remember, it’s all about preserving the delicate spices and wine flavors.

nuts fruits black background with wine


What Are the Potential Health Benefits or Risks Associated With Drinking Gluhwein?

Drinking mulled wine, you get antioxidants from the wine and spices. However, it’s high in sugar and alcohol. Moderation’s key. Overconsumption can lead to health issues like liver damage and increased risk of obesity.


So, now you’re well-versed in the art of making Gluhwein! This traditional German mulled wine isn’t only steeped in history, but it’s a delicious treat for chilly nights.

Remember to choose quality ingredients, follow our detailed recipe, and don’t be afraid to experiment with unconventional twists.

Whether you’re pairing it with hearty German dishes or sipping it solo, Gluhwein is sure to warm you up from the inside out.


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About author
Meet Sue Perera, the culinary aficionado behind our captivating recipe hub. An imaginative and talented young woman, Sue has an unwavering passion for all things food – especially those aromatic wonders, cinnamon and thyme. Her deep-seated love for these two unique spices inspired the birth of this website, but don't be fooled – her culinary repertoire extends far beyond these two ingredients.
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